Choosing between a team with a rich winning tradition and a team that has been at the bottom of the rankings 6 out of the last 8 years seems like a no-brainer.
Human nature would, more often than not, make an individual want to join a winners’ circle and coast through a collegiate career where greatness is written in the stars.
This was not the case, however, for UE rookie Mean Mendrez.
“One month sa summer nag training na ako with La Salle. Dun na din ako nag dorm,” revealed Mendrez. “3rd year ako nung in-invite ako nila coach Ramil. Kasama na ako pag may games sila. May allowance.”
Mendrez would have been a great addition to the Lady Spikers’ roster being tall, lean and having volleyball knowledge for playing the sport since grade school.
But the plan of the Taft squad’s coaching staff to switch her to a non-scoring position did not sit well for the Cavite native.
“May balak din kasi silang gawin akong setter eh hindi ko gusto,” she said.
Which is why when an offer came from UE head coach Francis Vicente to be a middle blocker in the UAAP came, Mendrez grabbed the opportunity without batting an eyelash.
The repercussions of her decision may now be sinking in for Mendrez as the Lady Warriors are still winless in 4 outings so far in Season 78.
For a spirited young athlete who is used to winning, this surely is a tough hill to climb.
“Nung nasa high school po madalas po nananalo. From lower meet to regionals panalo. Sa Palarong Pambansa lang talaga nalaglag,” she told FOX Sports.
With a frown, she adds, “Ang hirap kasi nung sa team na nilalaruan mo ngayon nasa lower siya. Gustong gusto mo i-angat at gustong gusto mo makatulong. Ganun pala pag natatalo, sobrang sakit sa puso.”
Slowly seeing the reality of the competitive field of volleyball in the collegiate ranks, Mendrez shares her frustrations on not even winning a single set yet in the UAAP.
“Iba ‘yung sa high school pati sa college. Lahat dito palaban. Sa high school kaya mo manalo kahit isa ka lang pero pag sa college hindi kaya,” she said.
On losing to UST in straight sets despite almost snatching the 3rd frame, she adds, “Sobra sobrang gusto ko manalo. Parang ito na dapat ‘yung time na mananalo kami. Sobrang nakaka-frustrate. Sayang.”
The 0-4 record, however, does not equate to regrets.
For Mendrez, choosing UE over La Salle and other universities who offered her a scholarship is a good decision in the making.
“I still think I made the right decision kahit natatalo kami,” she said firmly.
“Gusto ko naman mabago. Gusto ko matulungan ‘yung team na nasa ibaba,” she added. “Nag desisyon ako na papakita ko sa kumuha sa akin na kahit nasa ilalim ito, kaya ko rin tumulong i-angat.”
And while being at the cellar of the rankings could crush hope out of newbies like her, Mendrez proves to be a different breed as the consecutive losses do nothing but add fuel to her fire.
“Ngayon mas ginaganahan ako. Nung high school talaga hindi ako sanay ng natatalo. Parang ngayon na natatalo kami mas buhay na buhay ang dugo ko na kaya ko din naman manalo dito,” she said with a determined look on her face. — By Mac Dionisio