UAAP Volleyball

Hidden gem? UP rookie Pling Baclay focuses on improvements after 16-block, 2-game stretch

JR Isaga

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Hidden gem? UP rookie Pling Baclay focuses on improvements after 16-block, 2-game stretch

RISING UP. UP middle blocker Pling Baclay (mid-air) reacts with her teammates in the UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball tournament

UAAP Season 86 Media Team

UP reserve blocker Pling Baclay turns heads with a 9-block explosion in a losing effort against mighty NU immediately after rejecting 7 against UE

MANILA, Philippines – After a 0-6 start in the first round, the retooling UP Fighting Maroons don’t have much left to fight for in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball.

They, however, may have found a hidden gem in their midst in the form of rookie middle blocker Pling Baclay.

Filling in for grieving veteran Niña Ytang, who lost her mother at the first round’s end, the 20-year-old prospect from Naga turned heads with a season-high 9-block explosion in the losing effort against title contender NU, immediately after breaking out with 7 rejections in UP’s first season win against UE.

Despite totaling 16 blocks in her last two games and coming within 2 swats of the UAAP single-game record on Wednesday, March 20, Baclay was just focused on making the most of her opportunity and helping the Maroons gain momentum, win or lose.

“Of course, I’m happy. I only actually learned I had nine after the game,” she said in Filipino.

“I just focused on defense earlier and wasn’t even looking to attack. I just wanted to organize our blocking. That’s all I was thinking about.”

UP head coach Oliver Almadro, the former Ateneo mentor of UAAP block record holder Maddie Madayag, was likewise ecstatic of his new ward’s sudden defensive explosions.

“We were talking earlier about how close she came to Maddie’s record, but Maddie’s a different entity, she has a rock-solid physique,” he said in Filipino.

“But I know Baclay will be getting there as long as she keeps working hard and keeps herself humble.”

With UP just holding a 1-7 record at last place in the eight-team field, Almadro is just repeating the importance of believing in oneself and in one another as the Maroons use Season 86 as a launchpad for better outings, Baclay included, in the near future.

“We have to challenge ourselves. We have to keep that pride. We have to bring that UP fight,” he continued.

“The results don’t matter. What’s important is you keep on fighting. As long as afterwards, if we see their percentages rising in every skill, then they’re doing their job, and I’m happy about it. I have to see the good in everything they do. That’s our simple mantra, see the good in everything.” –

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