Ateneo energizer Ponggay Gaston 'had no fear' with Lady Eagles vs NU
MANILA, Philippines – The National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs pummeled the Ateneo Lady Eagles early in the first set, bringing the score up with 7 unanswered points, on Wednesday, February 7.
Errors on defense plagued the Lady Eagles' starting 6, which brought their spirits down. Being an advocate of the "happy, happy" mantra that was embodied by the Ateneo team for almost 5 years, Coach Tai knew it was time to send in someone from his bench to uplift the team's morale.
Coach Tai decided to put in Pauline "Ponggay" Gaston, whose cheerful nature on and off the court would be perfect for the currrent situation. Gaston was already so prepared before she entered the court that she immediately made an impact with a crucial block and service ace, cutting the deficit to just 3 points, 20-17.
Coming off the bench to play in a UAAP game could easily let your emotions take over, according to Gaston. The opposite knew that if it was her time to shine, then she would have to steer her psyche to "how can she contribute to the team."
"My psyche was not to just 'Oh yes I could go in' it was more like 'what can I contribute to my teammates? What can I do that can help this team?' because I think we were down. So I think my mental state was just not to panic and not to get too excited and just do what we trained for," said Gaston.
"I was really happy when Coach Tai put his trust in me."
Gaston was able to spread her positive energy to the team to make them "fearless" going up against Premier Volleyball League champions NU, especially in the 3rd and 4th set when Ateneo rallied back to extend the match to a 5th set.
"The energy of team was like 'we had no fear' like we just kept going, there was no like in the 5th set, I could feel like there was bit of tension," said Gaston.
Aside from being the "energizer" of the team, Gaston had a double-digit performance of 10 points after coming off the bench. Despite suffering from a 3-game losing skid to NU and going down 0-2 in the league, everyone in Coach Tai's squad will be ready to contribute whenever they are needed.
"I think I’m expecting that everybody gets a chance to play this season. There’s a lot of pressure being in the bench also. That means that one of the people in the starting six may not be contributing or may not be at their A-game so it’s kind of a pressure that you have to fill in this spot."
Gaston also expects their following game against University of Santo Tomas Tigresses on Sunday, February 11, to be another thriller as the Ateneo Lady Eagles are seeking their first win in the UAAP. – Rappler.com