With no setter in its depleted roster, NU looked vulnerable prior to the kick off of the 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference.
In the tournament’s opener, however, the Lady Bulldogs shocked expansion team Laoag when they put up a valiant fight and took their first win at the FilOil Flying V Centre, 25-21, 20-25, 25-23, 25-21.
While NU is no stranger to winning, what was surprising was how the team’s offense focused on its middle blockers, Jaja Santiago and Risa Sato, who top scored and combined for 33 big points.
This, according to spiker-turned-setter Jasmine Nabor, would be her brand of play moving forward.
“Sinasbai po nila pag nandyan si Ate Jaja (Santiago) hindi po nabibigyan. So ako, pag okay ang first ball, quick po. Basta maganda ang pasok, gitna kahit hindi pa perfect ang set ko,” Nabor told FOX Sports.
The strategy obviously worked for the Sampaloc squad as Laoag failed to stop Santiago’s rampage, allowing Nabor to finish with 31 excellent sets as opposed to veteran Chie Saet’s 18.
Though the incoming sophomore already has an experience as a playmaker back in high school when her former mentor, Francis Vicente, planned to convert her, Nabor still spent the last 3 years as an opposite hitter.
With Ivy Perez and Azie Soliven using up all their playing years and Rica Diolan leaving the team, NU is left with no other choice but to take a chance on the lanky volleybelle.
“Nalaman ko lang po na babalik akong setter nung nawalan na ng iba tapos umalis pa po si (Rica) Diolan. Free spiking lang kami tapos ako ‘yung pinagse-set nila tapos ‘yun na po,” she said. “Nagugulat na po ako na tinuturuan po ako ni coach Roger (Gorayeb). Nung nag meeting na po sinabi na sa akin ni coach na ako na daw setter kasi no choice naman daw po.”
Like what she did in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament, Nabor showed no signs of jitters as she displayed nerves of steel in her first tour of duty at the helm of NU’s attacks on top of scoring 10 points off 4 blocks, 3 kills and 3 service aces.
Make no mistake, though, as she admits the pressure could sometimes get overwhelming.
Talking more about her new role, she shares, “Nape-pressure po ako kasi wala naman po akong experience sa pagse-set. Lalo na po marami po silang ine-expect sa akin kasi nga po ako po ‘yung pumalit kay Diolan eh siya po may experience na.”
“Ang ginagawa ko po para bawas pressure nagpapatulong po ako sa mga teammates ko kung ano dapat kong gawin pag ganito ang receive. Tinatanong ko pag pangit ang set para malaman ko kung ano ‘yung mali ko,” she added.
Asked whether she’d rather be a spiker or a setter, Nabor revealed the latter, as she is already starting to fall in love with her new role for the Lady Bulldogs.
“Nung una po ayaw na ayaw ko po talaga mag setter. Eh no choice naman po. Nung tumagal, nage-enjoy na ako. Ngayon po mas matimbang na ‘yung pagse-set ko. Gusto ko na po siya,” she shared.
“Pero from 1-10, nasa 5 pa lang po ang skills ko. Madami pa po akong kulang,” closed the erstwhile national youth team member. — By Mac Dionisio