PVL: Paneng always strives to better herself

ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 03, 2018 11:44 AM
PVL: Paneng always strives to better herself
It’s extremely hard to catch PetroGazz Angel Paneng Mercado (No. 4) not smiling, which, her friends say, is what makes her look younger than her age. You can just imagine the kind of smile she had when on Wednesday PetroGazz made heavy favorite Creamline bite the dust right in the Cool Smashers’ debut in the Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference at the City of Imus Sports Complex.

At 29 years old and after playing more than a decade of super competitive volleyball, Stephanie ‘Paneng’ de Vega-Mercado is still willing to learn every day to become a better version of what she was yesterday.   

There’s no doubting that she belongs in the top echelon of Philippine women’s volleyball. She has earned it fair and square.     

Yet, she still feels she’s not a very talented athlete. What she is, she says, is that type of athlete “…who wants to learn every day, who wants to continuously reach my goal to become a better version of what I was yesterday.”  

There’s conviction in her voice when she declares, “We should take pride in every hard work we do no matter if we succeed or fail."  

The thought itself has become the self-motivation that constantly moves her.

“It keeps me moving ahead. People have seen me playing for a long time now; they have seen me succeed and fail. No matter what the results have been, I have learned tremendously from these experiences.”  

Many agree that there isn’t much difference between seeing her play for De La Salle University for five years in the UAAP under coach Ramil de Jesus and seeing her in action in the second season of the PVL as team captain of the PetroGazz Angels under coach Jerry Yee.

She has been as straight-backed as ever, her hair braided and gathered in pigtail. There’s always economy in her court movements as before. In fact, volleyball aficionados believe she’s more powerful now. Her vertical leap is always something to marvel at.

In short, she is sharper and fitter than before. How does she do it after 29 summers?  

“Hey, 29 is the new 20, right?” she claims with relish.

The daughter of former Asia sprint queen Lydia de Vega, who once ruled Southeast Asia and Asia in athletics, says she keeps fit by training every day, eating the right food, drinking lots of water, taking vitamin and protein supplements, and having adequate rest and sleep.

She takes her role as team captain of PetroGazz very seriously. Coach Yee describes her as “a leader with concern for her team and a very much conditioned player.”

Paneng says she tries her best to infuse her team with positive feelings. “I am a strict leader, yes, but at the same I also work to keep the team in an uplifting mood always.”

Stephanie de Vega-Mercado won’t say her present team lineup with three rookies in Marites Pablo, Jonah Sabete and Jessey de Leon is stronger than the previous ones. But she’s very sure the present team is more experienced and gelling better and better.

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