MARIAN Buitre hasn't seen much action this UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament, scoring only 17 points through University of the Philippines' first nine matches.
But with lead outside hitter Isa Molde out due to a sprained left ankle, the graduating opposite hitter knew she had to step up for the Lady Maroons.
"Lagi kong sinasabi na as a senior, lagi akong nandyan if they need me. Hindi naman ako nawawala eh," she said.
Buitre went on and poured a career-best 19 points on Wednesday as UP overcame UE, 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 24-26, 15-11, to grab a share of the fourth place at 6-4.
The feeling was nothing but sweet for the 22-year-old Buitre, who made her first start of the season after being relegated to a bench player all season long.
"It feels good to be back," she sighed. "Coming in from the bench for the first round and a few games in the second round, this game is really a morale booster for me. Magandang buwelo ito for the rest of the games to come."
After her career showing, Buitre hopes that she could play more like this one, especially with the Lady Maroons in dire need to make up for the 12.78-point average of the injured Molde.
"In this game, I was trying so hard and parang naghahanap ako ng momentum. Maybe this could be a morale booster. Hopefully, mas mahigitan ko pa performance ko," she said.
Now Buitre and Lady Maroons brace for the tough stretch, looking at the last four matches as crucial ones for them to get to the semifinals.
"Mindset ko this season is that every game is a championship game. Kahit sinong kalaro namin, laging sinasabi nina coach, treat it as a championship game," she said. "Kaya for us, I can turn any day into my day. There's really no time to slack off."