For a setter of Gyzelle Sy’s caliber, it is tough to believe when she said Pocari Sweat’s title romp in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Open Conference was her first gold medal finish ever.
This, of course, is not an absolute truth as she used to be a part of champion team Cagayan Valley—which is now disbanded—when it won gold a couple of years back from the same league.
What Sy meant was how the Lady Warriors’ most recent campaign was the first time she’d went all the way to the championship as a starting setter.
“Wala pa akong championship. First time ko ito kaya sobrang saya,” she exclaimed minutes after Pocari Sweat turned back Air Force in their do-or-die Game 3 battle.
“Special at memorable ito kasi ito ang unang naipanalo ko na ako ang starting setter. Nag champion na ako sa Cagayan pero back-up ako ni Ate Chie (Saet),” she added.
Just a couple of months back, the playmaker made a successful return in the UAAP where she decided to go for one last hurrah with the FEU Lady Tamaraws in Season 78.
Though considered to be a little short for her position, Sy, backed by her precise sets and airtight floor defense, powered the Morayta squad to a third place finish, almost eliminating powerhouse La Salle in the semifinals.
On finally winning a title after failing to do so in the collegiate level, the Laguna native shares: “Talagang araw-araw pinu-push ko sarili ko kasi sinasabi ko kailangan may ma-prove naman ako. Kung kinapos man ako sa UAAP, sana naman ngayon meron na.”
The road to the top of the V-League, however, has not been easy for Sy and the rest of her teammates.
In the semis, she was pitted against one of her UAAP rivals, Bali Pure’s setter Jem Ferrer, as Pocari survived a 0-1 deficit, winning back-to-back games to go all the way to the last round.
The best-of-three finals against Air Force seemed like deja vu with the Lady Warriors losing Game 1 anew before eventually crushing the life out of the Wendy Semana-led crew.
Talking about her title-clinching service ace, she recalls: “Nung last point sabi ko dapat panapos na. Sobrang positive lang nung mindset ko nun. Nasa isip ko na lang nun, ‘Amin ‘to!’ ‘Yung gagawin namin kailangan mahirapan ang kalaban.”
Sy’s service ace sent half of the crowd at the PhilSports Arena up on their feet celebrating the victory while the setter was on her knees feeling the moment and realizing how all the sacrifices and the wait have finally paid off.
“Grabe. Tumalon talaga ako at naiyak ako. Hanggang sa niyakap na ako ng mga teammates ko. Sobrang memorable talaga ito na hindi ko na ma-explain,” she said.
Reiterating her stand on the old adage about how height does not matter, she closed by saying: “Kahit na sabihin pa nila na kulang ako sa height, ang sasabihin ko, hindi dahilan ang height. Ito napatunayan ko na kahit ganito ang height ko, nadala ko ‘yung team. Nagtulong-tulong kami.” — By Mac Dionisio