Little Miss Maroon hope
By Josiah Israel Albelda
LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — SHE dives. She digs. She rolls. She tumbles. And smiles. Like no one else in this Palarong Pambansa does. All these with a torn iliotibial band.
And a few months from now, we will be seeing her in action suiting up for a squad not really known for what she did here: winning.
Princess Gaiser might be small but she makes up for it with a lot of intangibles — grit, determination and heart — three things that you saw little to none from the University of the Philippines women’s volleyball team last season.
The five-foot-two libero was an integral part of National Capital Region’s title-winning squad in this year’s Palarong Pambansa volleyball competitions, her above-average reception skills giving setter Julia Morado a chance to serve their spikers well and her spectacular digs saving a lot of points for the Big City belles.
In one sequence in their finals match against dethroned champion Western Visayas, Gaiser rolled and tumbled to catch a thunderous hit from Region VI’s Bernadeth Pons, getting it just in time for Morado to set Ana Gopico up for a kill that stretched their lead.
In the next play, as Pons — arguably the most powerful spiker in the Palaro — delivered yet another attack, the ball bounced off Marge Tejada’s hands and and flew into the track oval. But Gaiser ran after it and almost crashed into this writer, who was recording the game on video and sending updates via @MatchPointPH.
Someone of Gaiser’s caliber might have been easily recruited by UAAP powerhouse teams like De La Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University or even University of Santo Tomas.
But the comely libero chose UP because of only one thing: the quality education that the country’s premiere state university can only arm her.
“I think maganda talaga yung quality ng education,” the incoming BS Sports Science major told MatchPoint in an interview.
For Gaiser, too, it will be another kind of education that she will be getting into — one that will have her as one of the teachers sharing with her teammates the value of discipline, attitude and perseverance.
Asked what’s the most important thing that she will bring to the Lady Maroons, Gaiser said that it’s “heart.”
“Yung puso talaga,” she shared. “Kase dati parang pag napupuntusan sila, nawawalan na ng gana.”
Gaiser, an ex-St. Scholastica’s College standout, did not show any of that “nawawalan na ng gana” stuff here in the Palaro, being one of the leaders as NCR held off Central Visayas in the semifinals and steamrolled past Western Visayas in the championship round.
It also helps that the Diliman-based spikers will be around a rookie who goes all out in every game, not minding an injury that will have lesser beings scrambling for reasons not get out and play.
“Sana mas maging maganda yung results ngayong taon,” she added. “With my attitude, perseverance and discipline, I hope na I could help the team.”
For Lady Maroons fans, they can only hope that Gaiser could live up to the slogan of the energy drink brand she endorses.
Building champions in life, that is.