Frustration mounts for Bersola watching UP Lady Maroons slide

Jane Bracher

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Frustration mounts for Bersola watching UP Lady Maroons slide
"You’d give anything to play right now, but your anything is not enough," said the injured Kathy Bersola

 FRUSTRATED. Injured Kathy Bersola looks on as the Lady Maroons fight through UAAP 77 without her. Jane Bracher/Rappler


MANILA, Philippines – There are few things worse than watching your teammates make it or break it, and you simply watching from the sidelines.

At least, that’s how the UP Lady Maroon’s Kathy Bersola sees it.

The 5-foot-10 middle hitter sat helplessly on a chair with a crutch by her side as the still undefeated Ateneo Lady Eagles swept a sliding Lady Maroons, 25-18, 25-18, 25-18, in the UAAP Season 77 women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday, January 31. 

It was a far different scenario in this second round clash compared to the first, where UP gave the defending champions a scare by being the first team to push them to a 5-setter this season. And Bersola could not help but feel frustrated as her team failed to finish each set strong on Saturday.

Sobrang frustrating, kasi nandiyan lang ako nanonood lang ako tapos seeing them play, and losing,” she told Rappler. “Sobrang frustrated ako and gusto ko talaga tumulong. Nandiyan ka lang pero hindi ka nakakatulong.”

(It’s very frustrating, because I’m just there watching and seeing them play, and losing. I’m very frustrated and I really want to help. I’m just there but unable to do anything.)

“You’d give anything to play right now, but your anything is not enough. Sobrang gusto ko talaga pumasok sa loob,” lamented last season’s Best Blocker. (I really wanted to enter the court.)

Bersola, 18, was ruled out for the remainder of the season after her left knee suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury at the end of the first round. She said she needs at least 6 months to recover. UP sorely missed Bersola’s 12 points a game and the net defense she provided. 

After a 3-11 record and a 7th place finish in Season 76, this season’s goal for UP was to aim higher and boost their confidence level with each small victory on the court. Right now they’re at 4-6 and in a 4-way tie for fourth place with FEU, NU, and Adamson.

The Final Four dream is alive.

“I felt really devastated,” the third year Bersola recalled how she felt in the days following her injury. “Ang ganda na kasi ng start tapos nakikita ko talaga na may chance kami makapasok ng Final Four. And then imagining the team going there without me, living the dream without me, I want to be there with them. But there’s nothing I can do.” (We had a really good start and I saw a real chance for us to enter the Final Four.) 

Making the dream a reality

After ending the first round at solo third place with a 3-4 slate, the Lady Maroons started the second round strong with a lopsided win over University of the East to improve their record. But they lost back to back to De La Salle University and Ateneo.

UP was unable to build on the crucial silver lining versus the Lady Spikers, whom they defeated in a set for the first time in 6 seasons.

“I think they need the sense of urgency. Parang hindi nila ata nare-realize na patapos na yung second round,” Bersola noted what her team needs to do in order to make one last push for the semifinals.

Kung gusto namin umabot sa Final Four, kailangan talaga namin pumukpok. Kasi yung other teams yun yung nasa isip, gusto pa umabot sa Final Four.” (It’s like they don’t realize the second round is almost over. If we want to make the Final Four, we really need to grind it out. Other teams are all gunning for the Final Four.)

True enough, the University of Santo Tomas (5-5) has taken over the third place spot UP once owned, riding on a 4-game winning streak since the end of the first round. 

Yun yung nawala sa amin yung sense of urgency. Parang medyo bumibigay sila.” (That’s what we lost, our sense of urgency. They faltered a little bit.)

Rookie middle hitter Marian Buitre stepped up nicely in lieu of Bersola. She scored a team-high 13 points against Ateneo, a performance Bersola herself praised.

Though for UP to make it, it would take a solid collective effort from everybody and, Bersola said, a higher level of performance from team captain and the team’s leading scorer Nicole Tiamzon. 

Ang tingin ko na mas kailangan mag-step up is Nicole (Tiamzon) as the captain and the leading scorer,” the co-captain explained. “I think kailangan pa niyang dalhin lalo yung team para yung iba gumalaw din, kasi siya tinitignan nila as leader eh. And kailangan siya pinaka-matapang.”

(I think Nicole Tiamzon needs to step up as the captain and the leading scorer. I think she needs to lead the team some more so they will act, because they look to her as the leader. She has to be the bravest.) 

The veteran Tiamzon, for her part, is doing her best to help mold the mindset of her teammates, believing that mental toughness and faith in their capability to win is what UP is lacking at this point.

Tiwala lang talaga sa sarili and mental toughness, pati yung paniniwala na kaya mo makipagsabayan,” said Tiamzon, a third year outside hitter, adding that in order to string together some wins, the Lady Maroons must find their way back to how they started this season.

(We must trust ourselves and have mental toughness, and believe that we can keep up with the other teams.)

Dapat mag-recover kami from our loss. Maglaro lang. Nawawala na naman yung consistency namin and focus sa games. Kailangan mabalik kami ulit doon sa track na sinimulan namin nung first round.” 

Kaya pa mag-push. Nakikita ko rin naman sa kanila is gusto rin nila. Ang kulang lang siguro talaga is yung pagtitiwala namin sa sarili,” Tiamzon added. 

(We need to recover from our loss and just play. We keep losing our consistence and focus in the games. We need to get back to the track we started in the first round.) 

The Lady Maroons, who have already surpassed last season’s win total, have 4 more games to make one final stand.

Their first test is against a dangerous Adamson Lady Falcons on Saturday, February 7. Their next assignments are the surging UST, FEU, and finally NU. 

If UP can dig within themselves and realize that they can do more than just win a set or two, then the Final Four dream might just become reality for them by this month’s end.

Ang kinaiba ng season na ‘to,” Tiamzon said, “is hindi lang kami lumalaban, kumakapit na rin kami.” (What makes this season different for us, is we don’t just fight back, we stay in the battle.) –

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