Ex-trackster and cager is wowing ‘em all

Danny Santillan on Jun 27, 2016 03:49 PM
Ex-trackster and cager is wowing ‘em all
Dell Palomata of Air Force. (Photo by Nante Azures)

Philippine Air Force is parading a prized discovery from Bacolod who may lead the Lady Jet Spikers to their finest showing yet in the Shakey’s V-League.

Dell Palomata, 20,  a middle attacker on loan from University of St. La Salle, delighted volleyball fans and officials  as she, playing for the first time in Manila, tallied 16 points to carry the Lady Jet Spikers to a four-set  25-23, 14-25, 25-19, 25-16 victory over the Bali Pure Water Defenders, a team reuniting the Ateneo de Manila University UAAP alumna, on the second playing day of the V-League on May 30.

“I felt nervous only during the early part of the first set, but from then onward I just played my normal game,” says the six-foot-three native of Lupit Batan, Aklan of her debut in what has been acknowledged as the nation’s longest-running tournament in women’s volleyball. Besides scoring on 10 crisp attacks from the middle and accounting for five of PAF’s eight blocks, Palomata epitomized what Bali Pure and Ateneo coach Tai Bundit calls ‘Happy, happy volleyball.’  

On the floor that day she was generous with her smiles and laughter and ever ready to dispense congratulatory back taps or hugs to any teammate who scored a point. While waiting in the players’ pen she kept dancing or swaying to the upbeat music whenever it was played. Despite her formidable height, she moves with swiftness and great body coordination, which she is quick to attribute to the sports she competed in during high school.  

She was a key member of her high school teams in basketball and athletics (track field) in Aklan, but was recruited by USL in Bacolod City to play volleyball. “University of St. La Salle took me in because of my height only. I didn’t know anything about volleyball at the time; I didn’t play it in high school. I was hooked on basketball. I also ran the sprints, the 200 and 400.” What she has until now is a lot of athleticism, which no doubt facilitated her conversion to a volleyball player – and sense of humor.     

Her Air Force teammates describe her as a joyful and funny person to be around with. Unlike most athletes who need athletic scholarships to be able to study in university, Palomata is blessed to have a well-off family. A sportswriter, upon learning that her family owns fishponds that raise  such rich man’s fish as lapulapu, quipped during the interview, “Aba mayaman pala kayo.”      

“Slight lang po,” she replied. The sportswriter guffawed and so did she.

What is Dell Palomata bringing to the table for the Lady Jet Spikers? She scored a total of 30 points as Air Force swept its first three games – against Laoag, Team Baguio (25-15, 25-19, 25-18), and University of the Philippines (27-25, 25-19, 25-17) – or an average of 10 points per game. With her away in Bacolod City to enroll in USL, Air Force was dealt its first loss by Laoag City, 14-25, 23-25, 23-25.   

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