LA Salle rookie Thea Gagate was relieved to finally get the pressure off her chest as the Lady Spikers started the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament on a good note.
The 6-foot-2 middle blocker made her debut in the seniors' division with 10 points as the Taft-based squad frustrated Ateneo, 25-17, 17-25, 25-17, 25-15, on Saturday at the MOA Arena.
Gagate, who drew attention from fans during the offseason, admitted that it wasn’t easy dealing with people’s expectations but she was able to turn the pressure into motivation just in time for the UAAP.
“I think, nagstart talaga siya [pressure] noong inannounce ‘yung lineup. Like nakakapressure since mataas yung expectations nila sa akin,” she said.
“Pero, ‘yun nga, ‘di ko nalang masyado iniisip kasi pag inisip ko siya lalo, mas wala akong laro,” she added, as a matter of fact.
The young La Salle stalwart had her first taste of the UAAP college competition when they went up against arch rival Ateneo.
Instead of crumbling down to pressure, Gagate rose to the occasion and delivered the goods for her team, scoring on five attacks and five blocks in the match that took two hours and nine minutes to finish.
“[It] feels amazing kasi matagal na pong rivalry yung [Ateneo-La Salle] and pinaghandaan po talaga namin so it's just an amazing feeling na naaccomplish namin ‘yung goal namin,” she said.
Playing in front of the 12, 907 fans that trooped to the venue, Gagate turned to her teammates, coaches and the words of former Lady Spikers middle blockers Majoy Baron and Aby Maraño for support.
“Honestly nakakakaba po siya pero like hearing from the dugout palang like ‘yung dreams, and ‘yung crowd na puro sigaw, nakakakaba po talaga siya pero I just like relax myself na di masyadong iisipin ‘yung crowd kasi ako naman ‘yung naglalaro,” she said.
“Ginuguide din po ako ng mga ates namin na kalma lang, tapos ‘yung coaches. Since sila po ‘yung mas may experience kesa sa amin,” she added.