MANILA, Philippines – Another exceptional performance by libero Kath Arado could not prevent University of the East (UE) from absorbing a loss to Far Eastern University (FEU) last Saturday in the UAAP Season 81 tournament.
As usual, Arado was the anchor of UE's reception and floor defense. She was credited with 20-of-25 successful receptions, and 32 of 38 excellent digs.
Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors, one of the six balls that Arado could not save turned out to be the game-winning spike by FEU captain Jerrili Malabanan in the final rally of the match. The spike bounced off her hand and out of bounds, giving the Lady Tams a 25-15, 16-25, 12-25, 25-22, 17-15 triumph.
"Last game ko na 'to sa FEU," said Arado, who failed to lead the Lady Warriors to a single victory over the Lady Tamaraws in her five seasons in the UAAP.
"So gusto ko talagang manalo talaga that time. Naging emotional din ako, at saka ako din 'yung last point, di ba? Kaya medyo ano din, naging emotional din ako kasi ayun nga, nasa isip ko talaga, last game ko na against FEU, so buhos," she added.
Arado didn't blame herself entirely for the loss, stressing that they lost as a team. She pointed out that they were already on top, 2-1, and had rallied to reach match point, 15-14, before faltering in the end game.
"Siyempre, as a team, kasalanan din namin lahat 'yun kasi nasa amin na 'yun eh, binigay na sa amin," she said.
"Siguro hindi pa, sinasabi ni God sa amin na hindi niyo pa pwede kunin ang panalo na ito kasi hindi niyo pa ganoon pinaghihirapan," Arado added.
Arado couldn't help but turn emotional after the game, as she checked off another "last ever" from her list. After their game against FEU, she only has five more matches left in her collegiate career: UE is a long shot to make the Final 4 with their 2-7 win-loss record.
The veteran defender anticipates that she will continue to be emotional as every game passes, but made it clear that she is not losing sight of her purpose in her final year with the Lady Warriors.
"Noong every game naman dito, nararamdaman ko naman talaga na this is my last season. So, kailangan ko ibigay lahat sa team, hindi lang sa sarili ko, sa team," she said.
"Kasi lahat kami nagpapakahirap, lalo na ang mga coaches namin. Ang daming nagsasakripisyo para lang umabot kami sa point na to kaya kailangan ko ibigay lahat ng makakaya ko para matulungan 'yung team," said Arado.
More than anything, Arado is determined to leave the UE women's volleyball program in a better place than when she got there. The Lady Warriors had gone winless in her rookie season, before making incremental improvements in the next three years.
In her last season with the team, all Arado wants is to make sure that their program has improved enough to rise from the cellar of the league.
"Ang importante sa akin talaga, umangat yung standing namin," said Arado, who is a favorite to win Best Libero honors this season as well.
"Kasi 'yun ang kailangan naming iwan sa mga bata para the next season, kampante sila eh. I mean, andoon 'yung confidence nila na pupunta sa season," she added.
Arado explained that she doesn't want her younger teammates to feel the way she and her batchmates did at the start of every UAAP campaign, when they knew that they were coming from the very bottom of the standings.
"Ayaw naming maramdaman ng mga bata 'yun so kailangan naming pursigihin na kaming mga senior, maiwan namin sila na hindi sila ganoon kanahirapan, na hindi sobrang low morale," she stressed.
Armed with that mindset, Arado will head into the final stretch of her collegiate career determined to play her best volleyball – and hopefully, this time the positive results will follow.
"Ang sinasabi ng mga coaches namin, isipin natin kung paano natin papanalunin 'yung game, and paano natin ipapakita kung ano yung tine-training natin every day," she said.
UE returns to action on Wednesday, April 3, against an undermanned University of the Philippines team.
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