Kath Arado: Lady Warriors' prized libero ready to deliver
Mark Escarlote on Jan 27, 2017 03:59 PM
Hindi ko pwedeng ipahiya ang teammates ko, ang coaching staff namin, ang management namin, ang UE community dahil binibigyan nila kami ng halaga -- UE'd prized libero Kath Arado
Only on her third year with University of the East, Kath Arado is making a name for herself as one of the elite defensive specialists in the UAAP.
The Lady Warriors' libero will once again showcase her talents when Season 79 begins next week as UE looks to start a winning year after a string of disappointing campaigns.
While most teams pride themselves with ace hitters or towering middles to carry their respective squads, Arado is quietly doing all the dirty work to help the Lady Warriors, who are slightly behind in terms of firepower but not in fighting spirit.
The 18-year-old pride of Iligan City recently received the honor of bagging the Best Libero award in the 19th Princess Cup Southeast Asian Women’s U-19 Championship in Sisaket, Thailand last year while playing for the national youth team also handled by UE coach Francis Vicente.
That distinction said the raspy-voiced volleybelle serves as a fuel for her to do better this season – a goal set by the whole team since closing Season 78 with a dramatic win that ended the school’s excruciating 58-game losing slump that spanned for almost half a decade.
“Sobrang laking inspiration ‘yun (award) kasi di mo aakalain (na mananalo ka) kasi sa seven teams na nandoon tapos ikaw ang mapipili,” said the 5-foot-2 management student.
“Sabi ko sa sarili ko noon na hindi ako pwedeng gumawa ng aksyon na ikakasira ng team,” she added. “Naiisip ko na ito na ang maitutulong ko sa team this season na hindi ko pwedeng ipahiya ang teammates ko, ang coaching staff namin, ang management namin, ang UE community dahil binibigyan nila kami ng halaga.”
During the off-season, Arado together with teammates Shaya Adorador and Roselle Baliton joined Vicente’s Generika squad in the Philippine Superliga. There she was pitted against multi-awarded veteran liberos like former National University player Jen Reyes and Perpetual Help product Jheck Dionela and De La Salle’s Dawn Macandili, who eventually won an unprecedented Most Valuable Player award during the 2016 All-Filipino Conference.
Macandili’s feat fired up Arado.
“Sobrang tuwa ko na naa-appreciate (ang mga libero). Kasi ang libero di ba po hindi naman nakaka-score? Save the ball lang po talaga ang ginagawa namin. Nakakatuwa na imbes na spiker ang laging umaangat ngayon ang mga libero na po,” said Arado. “Sobrang saya kasi na-appreciate ng ibang tao ang ginagawa namin. Sobrang nakakadagdag (sipag) sa amin yun.”
“Sobrang laking bagay na ‘yun kasi nga po sabi nga ni coach na hindi naman makakapalo ang spiker kundi dahil sa receive kung hindi dahil sa libero. Namo-motivate po ako doon,” she added.
Arado’s skills manning the floor is not left unnoticed and even Macandili, who won last year’s best digger and best receiver awards, considers her as a rival.
“Actually speechless (ako sa sinabi niy). Talaga po?” said Arado as her eyes widened. “Hindi ko po talaga kasi iniisip ang individual awards po eh, iniiisip ko lang po lagi na lahat ng ginagawa ko, ang iginagalaw ko na i-save ang bola ay para sa team.
“Sobrang saya po na narinig ko yun na galing kay ate Dawn,” added Arado, who has Jen Reyes and Japan national team libero Arisa Sato as idols.
Rising to the challenge
Arado won Season 77 Rookie of the Year, a recognition she shared with University of Sto. Tomas spiker EJ Laure.
The award was a sweet reward for Arado but that time it was nothing but just a speck of light in a bleak campaign that saw UE finish its third straight winless season.
Arado and the rest of the Lady Warriors suffered 13 straight more losses before the day of deliverance came at the end of Season 78.
Facing the embattled Adamson Lady Falcons, UE finally savored the victory long overdue that ended a long drought.
It was a straight-set win that rejuvenated the Lady Warriors’ parched pride.
“Sobrang saya po na hindi mo alam ang gagawin mo that time,” Arado recalled. “Hindi ko nga alam na napaluha na pala ako. Niyakap ko na si coach at ang mga teammates ko.”
“Sobrang parang first time na ‘yun ang pinaka the best na nangyari sa iyo noong year na yun. Parang lahat ng negative na naririnig mo hindi mo na naisip. Puro positive na lang na ito na ‘to, simula na (ng magandang bukas).”
However, that win will be all for naught if the squad will fail to use it as a springboard to start a change of culture. UE set a goal to move a level or two higher than their previous finishes, a hard task but not impossible.
“Kung sa focus lang po sobrang ‘yun ang itinuro sa amin ni coach. ‘Yung focus na ‘yung commitment namin sa bawat isa, sa team. ‘Yun ‘yung siguro ang naging kulang namin sa team (noon), ang commitment,” she said. “Ngayon ay bina-bond nga kami lagi ni coach. Nagti-training kami lagi at ipinapaalala sa amin na huwag ninyong kalimutan ang panalo ninyo kasi ‘yun ang magdadala sa inyo ngayong season na ito.”
The Lady Warriors face a daunting task to open their season when they take on then Jaja Santiago-led National University on February 4 in the scheduled 2:00 p.m. match at the Big Dome.
But regardless of who the opponents are, expect Arado to dive, roll and risk it all to save the ball.
Catch the UAAP Season 79 women's volleyball tournament starting February 4, Saturday live on S+A, S+A HD channel 166 and via livestream.
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