Judy Ann Caballejo: A loving daughter first
ABS-CBN Sports on Jul 09, 2016 12:30 PM
Know more about Philippine Air Force opposite hitter Judy Ann Caballejo.
Judy Ann Caballejo, 24, is one daughter any mother would like to have.
Third among four children born to poverty in San Pablo City, she remembers always making an effort not to add to the daily burden her parents were carrying as far back as when she was in grade school. Her father being a construction worker at the time, she wouldn’t mind going to school with little or no school allowance at all. At a very young age, she already understood that it was not her place to complain against deprivations.
Much later she persevered to finish her AB Legal Management studies while playing for University of Santo Tomas again without asking for any support from her family. Upon graduation in 2013, she quickly enlisted with the Philippine Air Force and has since been the breadwinner of her family. With all her siblings married now, she said she only has her parents to take care of.
“I send them money regularly and whatever else they need,” said Caballejo last Monday while watching with her Air Force coach and teammates the knockout semifinal match between Balipure and Pocari Sweat in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13-Open Conference.
“I may not be seeing them as often as I would like to but I see to it that they have all their basic needs and something extra.”
The Pocari Sweat Lady Wariors went on to win the extended playoff against Balipure and will face the PAF Jet Spikers, who swept their separate semifinal series with Team Laoag’s Power Smashers, at the start of their best-of-three title series on July 13 at Philsports Arena.
Most prolific scorer
Receiving excellent upon excellent sets from team captain Wendy Ann Semana, Caballejo, Joy Cases and Jocemer Tapic joined forces to lead the Air Force attacks in winning six of their seven elimination matches, surprisingly downing the erstwhile unbeaten Lady Warriors last to bag the No. 1 seeding going into the semifinal playoffs. As a result, the Lady Jet Spikers (6-1) averted facing either of Pocari (second seed at 6-1as well) and the Alyssa Valdez-led Balipure (5-2) in the Final Four, where they were paired off instead with the Power Smashers (4-3), who dealt them their only loss so far.
Of the Jet Spikers, it was the dutiful daughter of a former construction worker in San Pablo City who shone the brightest during games that mattered most. She led her team’s production with 16 points against the tough National University Lady Bulldogs bannered by the six-foot-five Jaja Santiago (23-25, 25-21, 13-25, 25-23, 15-8), and again with 14 against Iriga City (25-23, 25-17, 25-18) the next game to keep alive Air Force’s chances of securing the top seeding after the eliminations.
With Air Force touting a 5-1 record as against Pocari’s perfect 6-0 run, Caballejo, added 14 points to the identical 15-point outputs of Cases and Tapic in bringing down the Lady Warriors for the first time, 20-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-15. Both Air Force and Pocari finished the eliminations at 6-1 each but the Jet Spikers emerged as the Final Four No. 1 seed by virtue of the win-over-the-other tie-breaking rule.
On to the best-of-three semifinal playoff against No. 4 seed Team Laoag, Caballejo, inspired by the presence of her parents at The Arena in San Juan, was even deadlier, striking for 15 points, the same output turned in by Cases, in Game 1 and a whopping 23 in Game 2 as Air force swept its previous tormentor in the games that counted the most. The Jet Spikers took the first match in straight sets, 25-20, 26-24, and 26-24, and were extended to five sets before winning the next game, 25-14, 25-20, 19-25, 21-25, 15-10.
Grateful to coaches
Caballejo is always quick to give credit to all her coaches who she said have shaped her into the kind of volleyball player that she is now. She has been playing competitively since she was in Grade IV in Platon Elementary School in San Pablo City, with Kuya Ruben Padilla and Ma’am Love Hernandez as her earliest mentors. In high school in San Antonio de Padua College under teacher-coach Ramon Tiongson, she played for the Calabarzon selection three times in the Palaro held in Naga City, Koronadal, and Palawan.
Already spotted by the UST scouts when she was still representing Laguna in the regional meet as a second year student, she joined the Growling Tigresses then handled by now FEU coach Shaq delos and later by coach Ojie Mamon upon graduating from high school. She also played for UST in UAAP beach volleyball, where she was twice chosen MVP.
She continues to play beach volleyball till today. With Air Force teammate Camille Abanto as partner, she competed in the series of tourneys recently staged by Beach Volleyball Republic, earning her over P100,000 in cash prizes from placing first runner-up four times in La Union, Boracay, MOA in Pasay, and Cagayan Valley. Most of the money, you guess it right, went to her family in the form of furniture and appliances for her parents and gifts and school supplies for her four nephews and nieces.
She has only one piece of advice to give those who want to be good at volleyball.
“Always listen to the coach and follow what he says.”