UST veterans Rica Rivera, Alina Bicar get their time to shine
MANILA, Philippines—Kung Fu Reyes has mainly relied on his rookies Mafe Galanza and Janel Delerio to play the setter and libero duties for University of Santo Tomas for much of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.
But with the Golden Tigresses closing in on a spot in the Final Four picture, Reyes chose to put old reliables in the forefront, in the Tigresses crucial game against University of the Philippines last Wednesday.
Reyes fielded gave veterans Rica Rivera and Alina Bicar heavy minutes as the team’s libero and setter, respectively, in the Golden Tigresses’ sweep of the Lady Maroons, 25-21, 25-12, 26-24.
Rivera said that when Reyes called her number she knew she had to step up and fulfill her role as one of the team’s leaders.
“I think I stepped up as a senior and I have to do this so I can help my team,” said Rivera in Filipino. “Even though I’m not part of the starting six or I’m not the starting libero, I will do anything for my team and I have to prove myself as a senior.”
Rivera tallied 15 excellent digs for the Golden Tigresses in what was her best game of the second round.
Bicar, meanwhile, said that she doesn’t mind if Galanza gets more minutes.
“We’re always helping each other within the team,” said Bicar who had 19 excellent sets. “Whenever someone makes a mistake we remind them ‘hey, this is how it’s done.’”
Bicar and Rivera’s inclusion into the game did wonders for the Golden Tigresses as they chalked up their second straight win and get a share of the third spot with Far Eastern University at 8-4.
“We’ll always be here for our younger teammates and be their Ates,” said Bicar.
As for Rivera, her jump in minutes had a more personal impact.
Rivera, who’s also a two-time beach volleyball champion, was distraught when UST lost to defending champion De La Salle on March 31 and she treated her performance against UP as some sort renaissance.
“That time was my wakeup call that I knew I have to step up for the team because this is my last playing year, I should leave a legacy for my team and even though I won’t play lots of minutes, I’ll make sure I can be a help for my teammates,” said Rivera.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.