MANILA, Philippines – University of Santo Tomas (UST) will finally get to see the tandem it has longed for, as the Laure sisters – EJ and Eya – will suit up for the Golden Tigresses in the UAAP Season 82 women's volleyball tournament.
It is a 1-2 punch years in the making, as Eya's collegiate debut was delayed by the implementation of the K-12 program. They could have played together last year, but EJ skipped the tournament to continue her recovery from an injured shoulder.
Instead, Eya teamed up with Sisi Rondina to form the most productive tandem in the UAAP. Rondina won MVP honors, while Eya was the Rookie of the Year, and they powered the Golden Tigresses to a finals appearance.
"Kung last year, may Laure and Rondina, ngayon naman, Laures naman, Laure sisters ngayon," beamed Eya, who scored a whopping 230 points as a rookie last year – second only to Rondina's 259 total points.
"Sayang, hindi kami nakapag-sabay-sabay," added Laure, referring to herself, EJ, and Rondina. "Pero thankful pa din. Kasi siyempre makakasama ko pa din. Dumating pa din 'yung panahon na nakasama ko 'yung ate ko sa collegiate."
EJ and Eya last played together in high school, when the younger Laure was a setter while her older sister was the league's top attacker. Their partnership produced a championship for UST's girls' volleyball team.
This time around, they are both spikers who will be looked upon to produce points for a UST squad that wants to return to the finals stage for the second season in a row.
It is a change in dynamic that both Laure girls welcome.
"Siyempre, ako 'yung magre-receive, siya papalo," says EJ, who won the league's Rookie of the Year award four seasons before her sister did. "Mas gusto ko na mas nakakapalo siya ng mas marami, kasi siyempre, 'yun 'yung kailangan."
"Power talaga eh," she said of her younger sister, who needed little to no time to adjust to the collegiate game.
Eya, for her part, said she and her sister will have the same mindset that she and Rondina had in Season 81.
"Kaming dalawa ni Ate EJ, 'yung mindset lang namin this coming season is magtulungan eh. 'Yun kasi 'yung naging effective last year. No competition, magtulungan," she said.
"Healthy competition nga 'yung nangyayari sa amin eh. Kumbaga, 'pag nakakapalo, masaya. 'Pag nakakapalo si Ate Sisi, masaya. 'Pag nakakapalo ako, masaya. Kumbaga, nagtutulungan kami," she added.
That mentality brought Eya and Rondina great individual success, and helped UST reach heights it had seen in seven years. Will the partnership between the Laure sisters produce the same success?
"Malalaman 'yan pagdating ng UAAP," said Eya.
The one thing EJ is sure of is that she and her sister will mesh well inside the court.
"Mas okay talaga kapag kaming dalawa 'yung magkasama kasi siyempre, nasasabi ko sa kanya kung ano kailangan niyang i-improve, and then nasasabi niya rin sa akin kung ano kailangan kong gawin. So, ayun. Mas okay na magkasama kami," she said.
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