Michelle Morente plays down role in Ateneo resurgence: 'Wala pa ako doon sa game ko'
Mich Morente says she's not yet in game shape yet she's been delivered big numbers for the surging Lady Eagles. Dante Peralta

RETURNING Ateneo spiker Michelle Morente feels she’s back to square one after taking a year off from the Lady Eagles.

Morente was a vital cog in the Lady Eagles’ championship in Season 76– the team’s maiden title since joining the UAAP in 1978 – but she sat out for the entire season 78 due to academic issues.

The incoming third year spiker, who was the missing link in Ateneo’s UAAP Season 78 campaign, returned to the team in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference but admitted to be in a feeling-out stage again in getting used to the hard training and the competitive play.

“Sobrang hirap. Syempre wala ako sa kundisyon for isang taon so parang step by step lang. Minsan wala akong laro kasi it’s really hard for me to go back kasi iba pa rin ‘yung kundisyon nila sa kundisyon ko,” said Morente.

“Alam ko din na wala pa ako doon sa game ko, wala pa ako doon, so dinadahan-dahan ko muna ang sarili ko na makarating ako doon,” she added.

While she was out of the team, Morente tried but struggled with the Spartan-like training regimen of Ateneo Thai coach Tai Bundit. She also did beach volleyball and running but she knew that those weren’t enough exercise to help her be in top shape.

Morente even found it difficult to reach her usual time for a one-lap run around the oval. She could barely break the team target time of 1-minute and 30 seconds.

“Nagbi-beach volleyball ako pero iba talaga sila (teammates) kasi sila ang taas ng energy tapos ako, ‘guys, ‘di ba kayo napapagod?’ Kunwari pag takbuhan namin, pag sa conditioning namin, nahihirapan pa rin ako sa training,” she said.

“I try to run by myself but it’s really hard because there’s temptation, there’s food and everything, so parang ako sige mamaya na lang ang takbo,” added Morente. “Sobra kasi tina-try ko tumakbo mag-isa tapos ita-time, sobrang wala talaga, sobrang bagal ko pero tina-try ko na ma-reach ang time ko. Ngayon sa isang round minsan 1:27 as in sobrang clutch ako minsan nga 1:30 ako sobrang pilit na ‘yun.”

The outspoken volleybelle may say she’s ‘back to zero’ but her numbers seem to betray her words.

She’s currently 11th overall in scoring with 37 kills, four blocks, and seven service aces for a total of 48 points in five matches.

Morente also took charge for the Lady Eagles in their do-or-die playoff match against Technological Institute of the Philippines, 16-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-16, as she delivered 21 points, 17 digs and 10 excellent receptions.


Morente and the Lady Eagles look to finish strong as they play University of the Philippines on Saturday in the quarterfinals before facing University of Santo Tomas on Monday (August 29) and Far Eastern University on Wednesday (August 31). 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinlozada