TWO years ago, Eya Laure, then in grade 10, turned heads in the semi-professional ranks playing as a guest player for the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tigresses in the last season of the defunct Shakey’s V-League.
Fast forward to the present day, the former UAAP Girls Volleyball MVP finally made her much-awaited debut as a college player in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Season 2 Collegiate Conference.
It was worth the wait for the high-school sensation, who scored seven points as UST opened its campaign with a 25-21, 25-12, 25-17 victory over San Sebastian on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan City.
“Akala ko pagka Grade 11 and Grade 12 ko makakalaro na ko sa seniors kaso noong in-announce sa amin ni Coach Kungfu (Reyes),” said the only UAAP high school player to win both Best Setter and Best Attacker awards in Seasons 76 and 77, respectively.
“Siguro may plan talaga para sa amin si God na magprepare pa talaga baka may kulang pa,” added the Best Opposite Spiker in Seasons 79 and 80.
In fact, Laure was not in 100-percent condition and only practiced last Friday after sitting out of training for three weeks to give way to the therapy of her right shoulder contusion.
“Actually, to be honest hindi ako nakapag-training ng three weeks talaga sa team. Nag-therapy ako para sa balikat ko kasi medyo hindi siya nasa in good situation noong past three weeks. Hindi ko rin inexpect na maglalaro ngayon kasi alam ko nga wala sa kondisyon katawan ko,” she said.
Reyes, though, was hardly surprised that the incoming rookie had a convincing debut despite not playing in full condition.
“Si Eya Laure, siyempre, talk of the town. Kilala naman ng mga tao 'yun. Galing 'yan sa programa namin sa high school. Sa dami ng rookies ngayon, hindi naman nalalayo si Eya sa mga kabatch niya na recruit ng ibang teams,” said Reyes, who is glad to finally have the player he groomed.
“Mas marami siyang katulong, mas marami siyang pwedeng i-look up pa. Madami pang mga beterano, pero kaya niyang sumabay. Hindi na kami nagulat sa performance, ganyan na talaga 'yun. Mapo-polish pa 'yan the more she plays sa seniors. Ito na 'yung programa na hinihintay namin,” he added.
Eya, the younger sister of UST star EJ Laure, wants to give back to her coaches by living up to the expectations.
“Si coach Kungfu naman kasi simula’t simula talaga na magvolleyball ako andiyan siya kahit noong grade 5 ako tinetrain ako ni coach Kungfu at coach Ian (Fernandez) na magsetter at spiker,” she said. “Pagkapasok ng Grade 7 sa UST nageexpect na sila sa akin na makakatulong ako. Nakaset na siya sakin na siyempre ginawa nila ako, trinain nila ako ng sobrang tagal. Alam ko talaga naghahanap sila ng something galing sa akin.”
After playing her first game as a Tigress, the 18-year-old rookie admitted that entering college life has yet to fully sink in her mind.
“Nagsink-in na siya pero slowly talaga, process siya na nagsisink in na, ‘Heto na ko, sa seniors na ko,’” she said. “Kasi ilang years din ako na senior sa Girls Volleyball Team na sanay akong i-guide ‘yung mga bata. Ngayon kasi ako gina-guide ng mga seniors ko so parang everytime na nagtetraining at nakikita ko sila, Freshman na ulit ako. Ako na ulit igu-guide.”