TOTS CARLOS completed her unfinished business for University of the Philippines as she led a young Lady Maroons core, this time, in becoming the first inaugural Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam champions.
Recovering from a stress fracture on her shin that sidelined her for six months, Carlos had mixed emotions after witnessing the Lady Maroons‘ magical title run in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Collegiate Conference last September,
“Happy pero at the same time, sad siyempre kasi di ako kasama sa naglaro. Pero ayun nga, we have to accept the fact na hindi ko pa 'yun time,” Carlos recalled. “So, kailangan ko magpagaling and I have to cheer for my teammates.”
The fit-again UP Team captain made sure not to miss the party this time as she unleashed 17 points to power the Lady Maroons past the UST Tigresses, 25-21, 16-25, 25-23, 25-19, in the winner-take-all final on Thursday at the Arena in San Juan.
“Now ngayon naman ang turn namin,” said Carlos, who was one of the senior players to lead the rookie-laden UP without Molde. “Kung ano lang yung na-achieve ng team, kung ano yung dapat i-expect nila sa akin, pinipilit kong ibigay.”
For UP head coach Godfrey Okumu, Carlos was worth the wait even though she injured her ankle in the latter part of the eliminations, where they finished second with a 4-1 win-loss record, but returned to action in the Finals to take down the elimination sweeper UST.
“We waited, she came back, and she went, then we waited again,” Okumu said. “But we are so lucky to have a player like Tots in our team, a player like Isa, a player like Ayel and many other players who know how to fight.”
“With Tots around, at some point our work becomes easier. That's what I say. She's our captain, we've all been waiting for her. I think it's a good thing that she's back,” he added.
Admitting that she is not yet in top form two months before UAAP, the star wing spiker is reminding her teammates to focus on their main goal and work harder for their real fight next year in Season 81.
“Siyempre happy ako pero meron pang UAAP eh. Kaya sabi nga ni coach, more pressure itong dalawang championship na ito. Kailangan pa namin mag-trabaho talaga for UAAP,” Carlos said. “Lagi ko lang nire-remind ang teammates ko na wag naming isipin yung (pressure). Isipin namin kung ano ilalaro namin sa court. Kasi never nag-relate sa ilalaro namin sa court. UP fans, lagi lang yang nandyan eh. So siyempre pressure, pero we'll work on it.”