University of the East may not have flashy and powerful hitters or imposing and intimidating middles compared to other teams.
For the longest time the Lady Warriors have been lumbering at the cellar with forgettable seasons, but prized libero Kath Arado gave the UE faithful a hope of culture change.
Just last week, Arado showcased a superb performance that made the Lady Warriors the newest talk of the town.
All, thanks to a pint-sized non-scoring volleybelle.
The fourth-year volleybelle was the catalyst in the Lady Warriors’ offense with her vaunted floor defense in full display as UE scored a huge upset over University of Sto. Tomas.
Arado’s feat in covering the floor to deliver the Recto-based squad’s second straight win earned her the nod as recipient of the UAAP Press Corps Player of the Week honor.
The 5-foot-4 libero tallied 32 excellent receptions and 28 digs as the Lady Warriors shocked the Tigresses, 25-23, 18-25, 28-26, 26-24, last Wednesday to open the second round elimination of the 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
Just watch Arado's game higlights and be convinced.
Interim coach Rod Roque praised the heroics of Arado, whose cat-quick reflexes and nose for the ball sparked UE’s counterattacks against the power-hitting UST side led by Sisi Rondina.
“Eh No. 1 naman ‘yan eh. No. 1 ‘yan sa UAAP, No. 1 ‘yan sa puso namin,” said Roque, whose wards ended the first round with a five-set win over Adamson University that snapped their 13-game losing skid.
“Kahit na sa practice nga eh, babalagbag 'yan. ‘Kath, okay ka lang ba?’ 'Opo okay pa po ako.' Pero kita mo 'yung pain sa mukha niya nandoon kasi bumalagbag na,” he added. “Kath, you're No. 1, you're the one.”
The Lady Warriors improved their record to 2-6, tied with their victim.
UE handed UST its fourth straight defeat and marked the first time the Lady Warriors prevailed over the Tigresses since the start of the Final Four era in 1994.
The Lady Warriors also claimed their first back-to-back victories since Season 74 but most importantly gave UE a fighting chance to vie for a spot in the Final Four if not improve their record from last year’s seventh place finish.
“Sa akin lang talaga, gusto ko talaga 'yung mabago talaga ang tingin nila sa UE,” said the Season 77 Rookie of the Year Arado. “Noong unang game pa lang namin sa UAAP, 'yun talaga ang nasa isip ko na, ngayon na season na 'to, gusto ko talagang baguhin ang tingin nila sa UE, which is nangyayari naman talaga.”
Arado edged for the weekly honor given by broadsheet, tabloid and online publication reporters covering the beat other top performers in teammate Mary Anne Mendrez, Kim Kianna Dy of De La Salle University, Tots Carlos of University of the Philippines and Ateneo de Manila University’s Jho Maraguinot.