ROOKIE WATCH: Eya Laure changes the game for UST
MANILA, Philippines – In the first round, University of Santo Tomas' (UST) Eya Laure has proven time and again that she's no mere hype.
The España-based squad's prized homegrown rookie has emerged as the second-best scorer in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament, tallying a total of 117 points off 100 spikes, 11 blocks, and 6 aces behind teammate Sisi Rondina's 122 points.
Even if she's billed as the favorite to win the Rookie of the Year plum, Laure remains humble and opts to set her sights on leading UST back to a championship.
"When coach Kung Fu [Reyes] and coach Ian [Fernandez] developed me in high school, I was really set to help the team when I enter the women's team," Laure said in Filipino.
"It's better to be a champion or [lead the team to a good finish] in the UAAP because that's what people will remember, not the individual award."
Laure's presence on the court has completely changed the game for UST, which finished 7th last season.
So depsite losing last season's Rookie of the Year Milena Alessandrini to injury, the Golden Tigresses sustained their hot run and capped the first round with a three-game winning streak for a share of 2nd place at 5-2.
The super rookie even posted two 20-point games and propelled the Golden Tigresses past reigning champion La Salle in straight sets. (READ: UST's Eya Laure rises to occasion, bags UAAP Player of the Week)
And the key to Laure's stellar performance? She's just enjoying herself in her first season in the seniors division.
"Importante talaga na ie-enjoy mo talaga 'yung ginagawa mo para hindi mo maramdaman din 'yung pagod," Laure said. (What's improtant is you enjoy the game so that you won't feel tired.)
Laure, though, is no stranger to sports success since her father Eddie Laure also spent the prime of his professional basketball career in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association.
Her older sister EJ Laure was also a product of the UST grassroots program as she dominated the UAAP Season 76 girls tournament with a crown for España and a Most Valuable Player award.
In 2015, EJ won the UAAP Rookie of the Year plum in the seniors division.
At that time, Eya was just playing basketball while EJ was trying out for the UST volleyball program. But head coach Emilio "Kung Fu" Reyes encouraged the younger Laure to pursue the sport just like her sister.
After learning the ropes, Laure proved that she's gifted with the same talent as her family and quickly won the Season 75 UAAP girls Rookie of the Year plum as a setter for the team.
She would go on to also win the Season 76 championship with her sister EJ.
But throughout her years in the juniors division, Laure would develop her spiking abilities to adjust to the needs of the team. After realizing her knack in spiking, she went all the way to bag the Best Attacker award and the Most Valuable Player plum in Season 78.
Although she failed to hand UST another championship as National University dominated with a four-peat title romp, the 19-year-old Laure has a chance to clinch one in the collegiate tournament. – Rappler.com