AFTER losing touch for six years, former University of Santo Tomas volleyball stars Jean Balse and Venus Bernal found themselves sharing the same playing court again during the inaugural Philippine Super Liga.
Only this time, the former teammates were on opposite sides of the fence.
Once dubbed the UST Tigresses' dreaded 'Double B,' Balse and Bernal played against each other during Sunday’s winner-take-all finale between Cignal HD and eventual champion Philippine Army before a huge crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Gulat na gulat ako noong nalaman ko na maglalaro ulit si Ven (Bernal),” said Balse, spearhead of the Lady Troopers. “Sobrang saya ko na nagkasama kami ulit kasi huling magkasama kami noong sa UST pa.”
In the maiden offering of the country's first commercial women's volleyball league, the two veteran spikers also proved they can still hold a candle against the current stars in the fast-rising sport.
Despite a six-year hiatus from competition, Bernal left the youngsters in the shade and emerged as the league’s first-ever MVP while leading a young Cignal team to a runner-up finish and a 4-3 (win-loss) record overall.
“Kahit na nasa kabilang team siya alam ko andoon pa rin 'yung husay niya sa paglalaro," said Balse of her former college teammate.
Balse, though, had the last laugh.
Getting a lot of help from her fellow veterans, Balse led the Lady Troopers past Bernal and the HD Spikers in the title showdown, 25-15, 25-18, 14-25, 25-16.
It is unfortunate that one of them had to lose, Balse said.
“Alam kong binigay niya ang best niya para sa team niya at ako din, binigay ko ang best ko para sa team ko," said Balse. "Kaya sa laro, matira ang matibay."
Bernal, who turns 27 next week, said she was more than willing to trade her MVP award for the championship.
“Mas gusto ko pa rin ang championship kaysa sa MVP (award),” said Bernal. “Kasi 'yung MVP bonus na lang 'yun eh.”
At the end of the eight-playdate tournament spread over a month, Bernal returns to her day job as an employee at Maynilad, while Balse is back to being a Private First Class at Philippine Army.
That is, until the next Super Liga offering comes along.