UAAP Season 81 Rookie Profile: Vanie Gandler
Anton Roxas on Feb 13, 2019 09:16 AM
“I came in thinking like, ‘When the time is right, ‘it’ll come. Me, starting.’ But then, I got this opportunity so I had to embrace it.” - Vanie GandlerAteneo-Motolite reached match point. 14-12 was the count in the 5th and deciding set. One more kill and the Lady Eagles will have achieved an improbable win against the Creamline Cool Smashers. Jia Morado knew exactly what to do. It’s what she normally did when her team needed to score – toss the ball to Alyssa Valdez.
But then, the unthinkable happened. The sure point that usually comes from a Morado to Valdez connection was shockingly denied. By a kill block. Not by the 5’11” Maddie Madayag or fellow senior Bea de Leon who is just as tall as her. It wasn’t the 6’1” Kat Tolentino either. The Lady Eagle who scored the game-winning block was a 5’9” rookie named Vanie Gandler.
For Gandler, that moment was surreal.
“It was a dream come true. As high school students before, we’d all just watch Alyssa Valdez. We all knew her as The Phenom. And like, in less than a year, everything changed for me. I’m playing against my idol. It’s such a great feeling.”
Gandler’s admiration for Valdez is one of the main reasons she chose to go to Ateneo for college despite attending De La Salle-Zobel from the third grade until graduation. She grew up in Muntinlupa as the youngest of four children raised by her father, Norbert who hails from Austria and her mother Gina, a Bicol native.
“My parents didn’t influence me to play. My siblings always gym but they don’t have a sport. I started playing Volleyball when I was Grade 4. My friend was playing and she just asked me to come along and so, I did.”
That innocent decision to try Volleyball would eventually lead to participating in the Palarong Pambansa, playing three seasons in the UAAP Girls Volleyball tournament, and most recently, the Premier Volleyball League Open Conference.
In her first PVL tournament, Gandler started in all of the Lady Eagles’ 19 matches and averaged 6.9 points per match. The 18 year old’s best performance was a 15 point outing in a win against the PetroGazz Angels on October 6, 2018.
The B.S. Management student honestly did not expect to be thrust into the action right away.
“I came in thinking like, ‘When the time is right, ‘it’ll come. Me, starting.’ But then, I got this opportunity so I had to embrace it.”
With the departure of Jhoana Maraguinot, new Head Coach Oliver Almadro has chosen Gandler to fill in her spot as open spiker. It’s a huge role but the freshman already has the support of none other than her idol, The Phenom herself Alyssa Valdez.
“She told me to keep it up and just be brave.”
Getting the attention and earning the respect of her idol is a pretty good way to start the next chapter of Gandler’s career.