UAAP Season 81 Rookie Profile: Eya Laure
Anton Roxas on Feb 16, 2019 09:22 PM
“Hindi ako nag-fo-focus doon (Rookie of the Year) kasi mas importante na bumalik ang UST sa Final Four at kung kaya yung championship appearance, yun yung mas importante sa akin ngayon. Tsaka sabi rin ng parents ko, bonus lang yan kung magka individual awards. Basta galingan mo lang.” -- Eya Laure
The next Tina Salak.
This was the vision of Kung Fu Reyes when he saw a young Ejiya Laure for the very first time. It was pure instinct on the part of the UST coach to see her potential in volleyball despite having a different sports background.
Born in Norzagaray, Bulacan, Ejiya, nicknamed Eya was the second born child of her parents, Eddie and Jovie. Eddie was the third overall pick in the 2003 PBA Draft and played 13 years in the league. It was because of his influence that Eya first started playing basketball.
“Center ako dati. Taga-rebound. Mga kalaban pa namin dati mga lalaki sa village namin,” recalled Eya.
Eddie was so proud of his daughter for playing basketball that he had a vision of his own.
“Sabi ni Daddy, ‘Galingan mo dyan. Someday, malay mo, mag-WNBA ka.’ Kaya hindi ko talaga inisip na mag-vo-volleyball ako,” shared Eya.
But, things would change when Eya’s older sister, EJ was recruited to play Volleyball for UST. One day, Eya accompanied EJ to one of her training sessions. And that was when the younger Laure sister was noticed by Coach Kung Fu.
“Nag-babasketball lang ako sa gilid. As in habang nag-te-training si Ate. Coach na nila si Coach Kung Fu nun,” said Eya. “Nakita ako ni Coach Kung Fu na nag ba-basketball sa gilid. Tinanong niya yung parents ko kung OK lang ba na ipa-try daw ako mag-volleyball. Tapos niyaya rin ako ni Ate EJ. Nagustuhan ko tapos yun, tuloy-tuloy na.”
Eya started training with UST in Grade 5. She spent two years learning how to play the sport before making her UAAP debut in 2012. It would be the first of six seasons that Eya would participate in in the UAAP Girls Volleyball tournament. She was named Rookie of the Year in Season 75 before winning the Season 76 championship with EJ, who was named MVP. EJ was also hailed as the Best Attacker of the tournament while Eya was recognized as the league’s Best Setter, validating the vision of Coach Kung Fu that she would be just like the legendary Tina Salak.
By her third UAAP season, EJ had already graduated and moved up to the collegiate ranks. Because of this, Eya had to adjust her game to the needs of the team and develop her spiking skills. She adapted quickly and won the award for Best Attacker. The following year, as a Grade 10 student, Eya emerged as the MVP of Girls division for UAAP Season 78.
During her last two years in high school, Eya adjusted her game yet again and played the utility position. She once again excelled in her new role, bagging the Best Opposite Hitter awards for two straight seasons before finally graduating.
With her rookie year in the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball tournament just around the corner, Eya has settled down at the utility position with the Golden Tigresses. However, she will be ready to transform her game once again if needed.
“Opposite Hitter ako ngayon sa team pero hindi mo din masasabi eh. Hindi talaga permanent. Pag dinala ako sa Open, sige, adjust kaagad. Bigla ako pinagset, sige, adjust agad. Kailangan maging prepared kahit anong position ibigay,” says Eya.
As early as now, Eya is being hyped up by fans on a social media as the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. But, the 19-year old is focused on achieving bigger goals this UAAP Season 81.
“Hindi ako nag-fo-focus doon kasi mas importante na bumalik ang UST sa Final Four at kung kaya yung championship appearance, yun yung mas importante sa akin ngayon. Tsaka sabi rin ng parents ko, bonus lang yan kung magka individual awards. Basta galingan mo lang,” explained Eya.
UST is one of the most storied teams in the history of UAAP Women’s Volleyball having won a total of 15 championships. But, it’s been nine years since the Espaňa-based school last won the crown during the time of Eya’s volleyball Idol, Aiza Maizo.
According to Eya, it was her grandfather, Ruperto Cruz who told her about the greatness of Aiza Maizo.
“Lolo’s girl ako. Lahat ng mga sinasabi ng Lolo ko, pinaniniwalaan ko siya. Sabi niya, ‘Si Aiza Maizo. Siya yung pinaka-magaling sa UST.’ Tapos hinahanap-hanap namin yun for ilang days sa gym. Simula nun, nung nalaman ko na siya si Aiza Maizo, nanonood na ako ng training at games,” revealed Eya.
Like Eya, Aiza Maizo was also a very well-rounded player who won multiple awards including Best Scorer (twice), Best Attacker and Best Receiver aside from the two championships she won during her time with UST. Eya hopes to become as legendary as her idol one day.
As Eya continues on the path to greatness, she encourages the UST community to be with her and the team every step of the way.
“Sana, sa ups and downs, nadyan sila samin. Na para sumuporta and ippromise namin na gagawin namin yung best namin this season para mabilik yung tiwala nila sa amin at mabalik yung UST crowd na sobrang dream talaga namin ni Ate Sisi (Rondina) at ng lahat. Gusto ng buong team na mabalik yung yellow balloons na nag go ‘GO US-TE!’”