MANILA, Philippines — From playing for Far Eastern University during her collegiate career, Tina Salak admitted she felt nervous during her coaching debut for her alma mater in the Shakey’s Super League.
But the new Lady Tamaraws head coach managed to overcome the pressure and deliver a successful first game as her young squad pulled off a come-from-behind 25-20, 24-26, 19-25, 25-20, 15-11 victory over NCAA champion College of Saint Benilde on Saturday at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
“To be honest, I was nervous. I mentioned to my partner that I felt jittery because for the longest time, I played for FEU. Now, it feels different to handle the team,” said the 1995 UAAP MVP, who won two titles, in Filipino.
“But I wanted to show them the mentality of a Tina Salak so they can translate it and eventually adapt it,” she added.
FEU willed its way back from a 1-2 match deficit with Chenie Tagaod giving her team a 10-6 advantage in the fifth set before they committed crucial errors that allowed St. Benilde to trim the lead to one, 11-10. Mitzi Panangin stopped the bleeding, while Tagaod pushed the Morayta-based spikers at match point, 14-10.
Barbie Jamili, a product of Nazareth School of National University, capped her impressive debut as a Lady Tamaraw with the match-winning ace.
Although it’s just their first win in Pool D, Salak, a 1997 Southeast Asian Games silver medalist, was glad to see a change of mentality from the Lady Tamaraws, who finished last in Season 84, by slaying the NCAA champions Lady Blazers who were unbeaten in 11 games before their five-set match.
“I expected jitters from my players because from last season. I am hopeful that they can change their mentality. Thankfully, they cooperated. I give it to the ladies. They really worked hard aside from the coaches’ guidance. I commended them for working as a team,” said Army’s former setter.
With a long way to go, Salak is taking this statement win in stride as they vow to work even harder this preseason in their bid to redeem the school in the UAAP Season 85 next year.
“This is a statement win tonight, but it’s hard to maintain this kind of momentum. So we have to try our best and push harder. If can train triple time as much as possible so we can maintain this kind of momentum,” said Salak ahead of their next assignment against La Salle next Saturday.
St. Benilde, which leaned on the MVP duo of Mycah Go and Gayle Pascual, has less than 24 hours before facing Letran on Sunday at 12 p.m.