Molde: Young, beautiful – and very dangerous

ABS-CBN Sports on Aug 30, 2016 09:06 PM
Molde: Young, beautiful – and very dangerous
Known more about the University of the Philippines darling Isa Molde.

So much has happened in the life of Isabel Molde between the 12th and 13th seasons of Shakey’s V-League.  

Not the least of which is that she has, shedding off some more weight, blossomed into a beautiful woman of 17 summers. In showbiz parlance, this young lass from Catmon, Cebu, is a complete package in the equally exciting world of sports.   

And oh so lovely face to go with her exceptional talents in volleyball.

She was only 16 when, standing at  five feet, six and a half inches, she debuted last year in the nation’s most popular women’s league as one of University of the Philippines’ slew of rookies. The moment she strode on to the Taraflex-covered floor, she at once commanded immediate attention with her Player-of-the Game consistency on the court. For one so young and so fresh, she was a revelation!      

Coaches opposing the Lady Fighting Maroons began instructing their players to pay special attention to that new Diliman girl at the net.

With her explosive attacking firepower – her spikes always clear the net by at least one foot and therefore harder to foil – and endearing humility, she had sportswriters heaping superlatives on her. They were one in saying that Ma. Isabel Molde could be the heir apparent of Alyssa Valdez, the one and only reigning superstar of women’s volleyball hereabouts.


UAAP Rookie of the Year

Her maiden stint in the Shakey’s V-League in 2015 had sharpened her spurs and more than adequately prepared her and the rest of the UP girls for the last season of the UAAP, where the Lady Fighting Maroons finally barged into the Final Four again and where she, fulfilling the promise many had quickly detected in her, romped off with the Rookie of the Year award and a cash prize of P50,000.    

The V-League, a hit, trailblazing undertaking of Sports Vision in cooperation with official outfitter Accel and official ball Mikasa, had also trained her, she says gleefully, how to face the TV cameras as one of the day’s Players of the Game and how to handle the now very demanding volleyball fans. 

The third among five children of schoolteachers recalls not feeling any attack of nerves in the nine matches she had in the V-League Collegiate Conference last year. She says she even enjoyed the challenge of opposing the likes of Valdez and the towering Dindin and Jaja Santiago sisters, thank you.    

“Mas ninerbiyos po ako noong interbyuhin sa TV. Ayoko po ng gano’n,” she says, referring to her first ever TV interview as Player of the Game.

But in a separate interview with this writer then, she was endearingly bubbly, even giggly. She was quick to laugh, articulate and somewhat childish. Twice, she turned her back unannounced on the interviewer to literally slam her body against two players of College of St. Benilde before hugging them tight one after the other.

“Teammates ko po dati sa high school,” Molde voluntarily explained.    

Her first UAAP campaign gave her more maturity and confidence – and well-deserved berths on two national girls squads that took part in an international under-17 championship and an Asean tournament.     

By this time the Cebuana, who came from the same town and graduated from the same elementary school as UP teammate Justine Dorog and the very talented Grethcel Soltones of San Sebastian College-Recoletos, had already become a real trooper in signing autographs and obliging selfie requests by fans who seem always to know where she’ll be passing on her way to the playing venues.

Even when she’s pressed for time, she’d stop for accosting fans, bend some so everyone is in the frame, and flash her ever warm and genuine smiles for the phone cameras.

“Pero kapag talagang nagmamadali po akong makapasok ng dressing room para magbihis ng uniporme, sinasabihan ko na lang po silang maghintay na lang ulit pagkatapos ng game.”      

Most of the time, though, it’s the security guards who come to her rescue. They’d break up the crowding and shrieking fans and accompany her into the playing venue up to the door of the locker room. 

And after the game, Molde wouldn’t renege on her promise to accommodate the fans until someone from her team literally drag her into the school bus.


Away from home like an OFW     

Student-athletes in Manila recruited from the Visayas and Mindanao live a life no different from those of overseas Filipino workers in so far as family contact is concerned. They go home generally once a year, always during the long Christmas holidays.  

Molde says she’s lucky that she’s been home to Catmon twice already this year, the first for a balikbayan cousin’s wedding and the second for a family reunion where decidedly she was the star of the occasion. 

Molde graduated from Hope Christian High School, to where its coach and also UP mentor Jerry Yee had brought her and two other girls – her UP teammates Justine Dorog and Mae Basarte -- after their graduation in elementary in Cebu.

“Nakita po kami ni coach sa Cebu noong naglaro kami sa Milo (-sponsored kiddie tournament). Dinala na po niya kami sa Manila pagkagradweyt namin ng elementary.”  

The three Cebuanas had stayed in the Yee residence ever since while studying, training and playing. Molde described their high school routine as “aral, training, laro, kain, tulog. ‘Pagnaho-homesick lumalabas po kami kasama ang barkada. Minsan lang sa isang taon po kami umuuwi sa Cebu, sa Pasko lang.”  

From the Yee house, the Warays are now staying at the UP dorm in Diliman for which Molde’s parents had flown in a week before the start of last school year’s classes to inspect. She is taking up Bachelor of Science in Physical Education, but said then that she would be happier working as a flight attendant years from now.     

Ma. Isabel Molde is now singing a different tune.    

She says she still loves to experience the life of a flight stewardess, yes, but that has to come after she’s tried teaching the kids first. “Uunahin ko po muna ang magturo sa mga bata. I love kids,” she said.  

The teaching bug that has afflicted her parents, both elementary school principals, has also caught the daughter.


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