In Coach O, Samonte trusts as she returns to her roots as middle in UAAP 82

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Mar 04, 2020 09:14 PM
In Coach O, Samonte trusts as she returns to her roots
(Photo by Arvin Lim)

The Ateneo de Manila University frontline was very much different to open the UAAP 82 Women's Volleyball Tournament.

Gone were the height and the long limbs of Maddie Madayag and Bea de Leon in the middle and in were the versatility and determination of Jules Samonte and Ponggay Gaston.

Most definitely, the change was clear as day as Madayag and de Leon both stood at 5-foot-11 while Samonte and Gaston are 5-foot-8 and 5-foot-9, respectively.

Still, Samonte and Gaston were more than enough for the Lady Eagles to take care of business against the University of the Philippines and take a big-time win to open their title defense.

In particular, Samonte did damage with 10 points, three coming from blocks - and for that, head coach Oliver Almadro is nothing but satisfied. "Jules had three blocks so I guess that speaks for itself na naka-block siya. That's good for a middle blocker so she did her job," he said.

Even better, the 21-year-old did that with just two months of adjustment from her previous position of utility spiker. Asked about her thoughts when she was told about the change, she answered, "He told me start of the year lang, but okay lang. I trust Coach O with whatever he wants us to do."

From then until now, the championship mentor has full faith in Samonte - and that is the root cause of why the latter always makes sure to not let the former down. "The last time I was a middle was in my first year sa college then binalik ako ni Coach O this year. I still have a lot to learn," she said, looking back in her rookie year in blue and white as well as her high school career wherein she was the woman in the middle.

She then continued, "Nanibago ako from being open and then utility and then middle again, but good thing na sobrang tiyaga ni Coach O na turuan kami ni Ponggay."

It also doesn't hurt the Lady Eagles' new middles that Madayag and de Leon themselves are still there to be mentors. "During training, they still visit us and guide us so siyempre, nakakatulong pa rin sila. Sinasabi nila laging no pressure dapat," Samonte said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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