This Lady Warrior gets what she wishes for

ABS-CBN Sports on May 22, 2017 07:56 PM
This Lady Warrior gets what she wishes for
Cai Nepomuceno dished out an inspired 12-point performance, distinguishing herself as Player of the Game during Pocari Sweat’s four-set domination of Creamline last May 11.

All Maricar ‘Cai’ Nepomuceno asks for whenever she’s suiting up for a team is to be given more playing time.    

Not that she wants it handed out to her on a silver platter. She knows she has to earn it.

She’s worked hard and is still doing so to prove her worth in this, her second season with the Pocari Sweat Lady Warriors. And this five-foot-nine, 27-year-old mother of one is succeeding much to her heart’s content.

From playing mainly as a second stringer in the Lady Warriors’ back-to-back title romp last year in the defunct V-League, Nepomuceno now finds herself regularly starting for coach Rommel Abella in the season-opening Reinforced Conference of the brand new Premier Volleyball League, another grand venture of Sports Vision aimed at promoting men’s and women’s volleyball in the country in a joint effort with Asics as official league partner and Mikasa as official game ball.  

The former NU Lady Bulldog had a tentative start, though, in the Lady Warriors’ opening match against coach Nes Pamilar’s Power Smashers. She was pulled out of the first set and sent back to the court in the next two as a replacement good only for a few rotations. Her measly two-point production was a letdown, she said.

“I was again frustrated by being pulled out in the first set,” she said in Filipino. “Given more playing time I knew I would be able to regain my confidence, raise the level of my game. But it was not to be.”     

Nepomuceno’s breakthrough performance came in the Lady Warriors’ next outing against the Balipure Water Defenders, striking for eight points in Pocari’s second straight losing stand. She contributed nine as her team finally broke into the win column at the expense of the Air Force Lady Jet Spikers.     

She sparkled with 12 points as the Lady Warriors, continuing to work as a well-oiled machine, nailed their second consecutive win against Creamline and Alyssa Valdez in four sets and she the Player of the Game distinction on Thursday, May 11.

She faced the TV camera carrying her son, three-year-old Enzo, in her arms while her partner, Ken Baloaloa, a former NU Bulldog now playing for Philippine Army, was watching them from the sideline.

Playful and adorable, little Enzo provides some amusement to fans whenever mom has a game. He joins her during limbering-up exercises, running side by side with her forward and backward. Dad would immediately scoop him out of the court once the referee signals the start of the official warm-up. 

An employee of Maynilad since 2015, Nepomuceno of Marilao, Bulacan, happily disclosed she will tie the knot with Kenneth Baloaloa of Ilocos Norte on June 8 this year. He popped the big question last Aug. 10 at Dencio’s on Katipunan complete with an engagement ring.

She sees herself playing for another three years after which she wants to have another baby.

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