Final Four of courage
Courageous hearts were in ample supply last weekend in the UAAP women’s volleyball semifinals.
The University of Santo Tomas Tigresses tried to extend their season against defending champion De La Salle University. Nothing seemed to go their way as they were unable to find sufficient cracks in the defensive wall the Lady Spikers had erected in the first two sets.
And just when the tide seemed to turn in the third set, scorer EJ Laure accidentally stepped on an opponent’s foot after a net battle. Laure crumbled to the floor with a sprain. Injury is never a welcome sight in sports. Her schoolmates held their breath and Laure’s parents waited if the prolific spiker could get up on her own.
Laure’s father Eddie, the former pro basketball player, went to the sidelines to re-tape his daughter’s ankle. Through the years, Eddie may have tied EJ’s shoelaces when she was growing up but applying the athletic tape on his daughter was different, given the pain and the circumstances.
Driven by determination to keep her school in the tournament, Laure returned to the match. UST took the third set 26-24 but could not hold any longer and fell in four sets. But the heart of EJ Laure was enough to etch memories she and her schoolmates will cherish through the years.
Far Eastern University was also saddled with a twice-to-beat disadvantage against a team they found so hard to beat through the years. The Ateneo Lady Eagles were off to a fiery start, taking the first two frames, 25-22 and 25-10.
Then, FEU’s fiery pair of Remy Pablo and Bernadeth Pons waged a comeback in the third set. Down 6-10, they compelled Ateneo to bungle the ball and roared back to tie. Then they rattled off seven straight points to take the set 25-16. FEU would not simply go into the night with a heavy heart. In the end, Ateneo still prevailed in four and set a finals date with its familiar partner La Salle, but not without a fight from FEU.
School sports are memorable for those moments of courage displayed by young men and women. We watch because we are reminded of our own youth and draw inspiration from the next generation to never give up too easily even when the odds are against you.
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