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UP stars Molde, Layug turn pro with PLDT

University of the Philippines (UP) Maroons Isa Molde and Maristela Layug decided to forgo their final UAAP year to pursue a professional volleyball path with the PLDT Home Fibr Power Hitters in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL).

Both Molde and Layug, who are finishing their final semesters in UP, are the latest additions of the team that will be mentored by Roger Gorayeb, who owns 39 championships in different leagues and is just one of two triple crown coaches in the V-League.

According to Gorayeb, UP gave PLDT its final blessing as the two stalwarts are currently finishing their final semesters.

"Masaya na sila sa nabigay ni Isa at Marist sa 4 years nila sa UP – sa exposure at mga naibigay nila sa programa," said Gorayeb.

(UP is satisfied with what Isa and Marist have contributed to them in the last 4 years and they were able to give them exposure through the program.)

Molde, a 5-foot-7 outside hitter from Catmon, Cebu, was awarded the UAAP Season 78 Rookie of the Year.

Her biggest achievements in the collegiate scene include the 2018 PVL Collegiate Conference MVP award and the Finals MVP plum when UP clinched its maiden title in the league's collegiate tournament.

In her semi-pro career, Molde played for Foton in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) and Motolite in the PVL.

"Si Isa, outside hitter iyan e. Malaking bagay yung exposure niya sa UP at sa mga nalaruan niya na teams. Malaki ang madadala niya sa team natin," Gorayeb said about his expectations for Molde.

(Isa is an outside hitter. Her exposure in UP was vital to the teams she suited up in. She will be able to contribute a lot to our team.)

On the other hand, Gorayeb is glad to finally be able to coach Layug, a 6-foot blocker from Quezon City, as he wanted to recruit her to National University (NU) after her stint with King's Montessori.

"Si Marist kasi nung nasa NU na ako, isa 'yan sa mga gusto kong kunin. Kaso hindi kami nagkaroon ng chance na makausap siya kasi ibang tao ang kumausap sa kanya that time. Sabi na lang niya sa akin na mag-UP na siya," shared Gorayeb.

(I already wanted to recruit Marist since I was still coaching for NU, but I never got a chance to talk to her because she was already talking to other teams. She then told me that she would join UP.)

Molde and Layug will be joined by Eli Soyud, Chin Basas, Yeye Gabarda, and Nieza Viray, who also signed with PLDT.

"Malaki 'yung nakikita kong future nila kasi excited akong ma-coach sila. Excited akong mabigyan ng ibang style of play, something new for them," expressed Gorayeb as he awaits the go-signal for the resumption of volleyball training.

(I'm excited to coach them and their futures are bright. I'm excited to teach them other styles of play – something new for them.)

The PVL is slated to kick off its first professional season on April 10 in a bubble set up at the NU Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.

PLDT made a move from the PSL to the new pro league PVL, which announced its three-year broadcast deal with Cignal TV last Thursday. – Rappler.com