READY TO STEP UP
Cebuana Deanna Wong begins new chapter with Ateneo as UAAP volleyball start
Ever since UAAP’s best setter Jia Morado left the Ateneo Lady Eagles last year, all eyes — and the pressure that came with it — were set on Cebuana Deanna Wong.
The 19-year-old former University of San Jose-Recoletos stunner started her stint with the Lady Eagles as a libero. Now, she has to embrace a bigger role of replacing Morado as the team’s only setter, something the Lady Eagles believe would be an important role in their bid for the UAAP women’s volleyball title this year.
But Wong, after a stint in the Philippine Volleyball League and another Thailand training camp, said she is up to the latest challenge in her volleyball career.
“It’s not that easy to replace such an amazing setter but I have to step up,” she said. “I’m just going to play my game and follow what I can follow from Ate Jia. For my teammates, for the team and for everyone who’s counting on me.”
Before becoming a libero, Wong was a setter here in Cebu. She was tasked to embrace the libero role when she was with Ateneo as Morado took care of the setter position.
But Morado’s decision to forego her final playing year with Ateneo caught everyone by surprise, especially Wong as she had to fill in the void left by the former team captain.
As the 80th season of the UAAP begins today, the 5-foot-8 Wong admitted feeling a bit pressured on her new role.
“[It’s] Nerve-wracking. Maybe [I feel] a bit pressured but we have a choice to feel or not to feel that way,” Wong said.
She said she is confident of the team’s chances, which will now depend on how she and veterans Maddie Madayag, Bea de Leon and Jho Maraguinot perform this season.
“Every team has one goal. And that is to win the championship. I really expect the team to do their best and work hard because this season is more challenging for us than ever. We have to be more confident in everything we do and believe in ourselves,” Wong said. “All I can say is for people not to expect anything. We’re a new team, a rebuilding team. We lost a lot of players but what didn’t change is still the usual happy, heartstrong mantra that’s with us. We’re just going to play our game and enjoy every point that we take.”
Aside from Wong, other noted Cebuanas in the UAAP volleyball tournament are Cherry Ann “Sisi” Rondina of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Lady Tigresses and Far Eastern University’s (FEU) Marianne Calinawan, who will be making her debut in the league.
Rondina will be the first to see action among the three as UST faces defending champions De La Salle University (DLSU) in the main game today at 4 p.m. The curtain raiser features Adamson University (AdU) facing National University (NU) at 2 p.m.
The University of the Philippines (UP) and University of the East (UE) open their respective campaigns on Sunday at 2 p.m. before Wong and Calinawan face each other when Ateneo meets FEU in the main match at 4 p.m.
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