MANILA, Philippines -- The reunion that University of Santo Tomas (UST) fans have long waited for finally happened on Wednesday, when sisters EJ and Eya Laure shared the court for the Golden Tigresses in the UAAP Season 82 women's volleyball tournament.
It marks the first time that the Laure sisters are teammates in the UAAP since they were playing for UST's high school team -- a successful partnership that resulted in a title in Season 76.
Their first game together will go in the record books as a loss, as the Tigresses bowed to National University (NU) in five sets, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20, 20-25, 13-15. But the Laure sisters both shone: EJ put up a 17-point, 20-dig, 12-receive triple-double, while Eya had a team-high 20 points.
"Happy, kasi after ilang years, andito na ulit kami," said EJ, who sat out Seasons 80 and 81 while recovering from a recurring shoulder injury. "May struggle lang siguro sa court, kasi siyempre unang game pa rin namin sa UAAP."
The younger Laure, who emerged as a star last season where she earned Rookie of the Year honors, was clearly delighted with playing with her sister.
As a rookie, Eya learned plenty from former UST captain Sisi Rondina, whose explosive scoring exploits and fiery leadership helped the Tigresses reach the finals in Season 81. Now, as a sophomore, she is looking forward to learning from her own sister.
"Hindi ma-explain sa words 'yung saya ko," said Eya.
"Nawala man si Ate Sisi, masaya pa rin ako kasi and'yan si Ate. Andiyan 'yung magga-guide ulit sa akin," she explained. "Kasi, aminin ko man sa hindi, mas okay pa din ako sa may magga-guide sa akin sa sophomore year ko."
"Masaya ako kasi hindi ako iniwan ng ate ko, na pinili niya na maglaro ulit."
It is a two-way street, however. EJ has not played in the UAAP since 2017, when she helped the Tigresses reach the Final 4. Eya is helping her find her footing again, and to be once more comfortable in playing at the collegiate level.
"Andoon kasi talaga na nagkakaintindihan kami. Isang malaking bagay yun kasi siyempre, kakabalik niya lang eh," said Eya.
"So kailangan ko ulit iparamdam sa kanya na ito 'yung UAAP court, which is open naman siya, and gustong-gusto niya 'yung feeling ulit na ayun, maka-step ulit sa UAAP court," she added.
Their first game together may not have gone as they wanted, but the older Laure vowed that they will recover.
"First game, (we) fell short," she said. "Pero siyempre, babangon pa din."
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