UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas got the needed numbers from young EJ Laure and other rookies showed they can also deliver as the Tigresses got off to a hot start in the volleyball tournament of UAAP Season 77 on Saturday at MOA Arena.
Veterans Pam Lastimosa, Ria Meneses and Jessey de Leon combined for 24 points, but first year players led by Laure grabbed their share of the limelight in the opening-day win over University of the East.
Although coach Odjie Mamon downplayed the quick win as it was scored against a struggling UE side, the match gave a glimpse of what the young Tigresses’ can do.
Laure, last season’s UAAP juniors MVP, scored eight points including two blocks in two sets before being rested in the third.
Fellow rookies Cherry Rondina and Mary Pacres had three markers apiece.
“Expected ko ‘yun sa kanila,” said Mamon. “Expected ko na palaban sila kasi kahit sa scrimmage namin sa UST (practices) pumupuntos ’yan sila.”
“They don’t want to give it up sa mga veterans and because of that they earned their spot sa line up. They are competitive,” he added.
Cheering at the stands star rookie EJ Laure was her family headed by her father, PBA player Eddie Laure.
Although EJ’s performance in her UAAP women's team debut was a far cry from her matches in the V-League where she emerged as the team’s leading scorer, the elder Laure was proud.
“Sobrang nakaka-proud, sobrang natutuwa kami ng family ko. From the start naman support lang kami sa kanya,” said Eddie, who came along with wife Jovie, younger daughter Eya, who also plays for UST girls’ volleyball, in-laws Ine and Bodjoke Cruz.
“Kasi dati sa Shakey’s V-League at UAAP juniors pa lang siya nakakalaro, ngayon dito na (college). Iba kasi ang level na dito, parang pang-professional na.”
“Kinakabahan nga kami ng misis ko eh,” he said, while pointing to his wife. “Pero sinabi ko na lang sa kanya, ‘Ate, kung ano man ang nababasa mo sa social media huwag mo na lang pansinin, focus ka sa game at ibigay mo ang best mo.’”