Kalei Mau has put Filipino volleyball fans on notice ever since she started playing for the Cocolife Asset Managers during the PSL All Filipino Conference 2018. Aside from her smart placement of shots, her excellent saves and receptions from the back row makes her a well-rounded player.
These attributes has prompted followers of the sport to pencil her in for the Philippine women’s volleyball team. But in a recent interview during the Rebisco Volleyball League 2018 National Finals, the PSL AFC 2018’s second leading scorer will only express intent for the National Team on one condition.
“I cannot specifically say anything to people or even commit to it yet because I am focused on getting my shoulder right,” Mau said. At present, she is still on her way to recovery after dealing with a hypermobile shoulder. “But once I am confident about it, that’s the time that I can say that I want to play for the National Team,” the former US NCAA All-American confirmed. She is also taking measures to fulfill this intention by applying for a Philippine passport which according to her will be ready by December.
Full fighting spirit at partial strength
It’s a good thing though for the Asset Managers and for Philippine volleyball in general that the regular therapy sessions she is getting speeds up her journey to full strength. “I surprise myself every day. I am now ten months post operation. They say that I will be able to play again 10-12 months after operation but I was back in eight,” Mau exclaimed.
Indeed, she has come a long way from questioning whether she can play volleyball again. But the healing process became a blessing in disguise for it helped her develop other aspects of her game. “I’m being to be mindful of my injury every day. But with my shoulder not 100%, it helped me work on my shots and become a smarter hitter. Usually, I am a power hitter. So when I came back in college, I played beach volleyball in one semester which helped bring tip shots and the off-speed approach back to my game.”
As Mau inches closer to spiking at full strength, it’s hard to imagine how grave her injury was to begin with. “My shoulder dislocated and became hypermobile. I tore my labrum, parts of my rotator cuff, and my bicep which caused a lot of instability. It came to a point when small movements such as sneezing would cause my shoulder to dislocate again”.
She got a new lease on her volleyball career after surgery. “They prepared the labrum, took a portion of the rotator cuff, filled that hole, and repaired the other damaged tendons and ligaments,” Mau described of her operation. That’s the reason why she paces herself especially late at games.
Asset to Cocolife and Pinoy volleyball
Despite the surgery, there was no certainty that she will continue her professional volleyball career that has brought her to Puerto Rico and France. “I was miserable during the first week after the surgery and it was when I dealt with some mental challenges because I thought I would not be able to play again. So when Cocolife reached out to me and offered to help me recover from the surgery, I thought it was too good to be true,” Mau stated.
This is her motivation to repay the trust that the Asset Managers gave. Mau has averaged a shade under 18 points a game in ten PSL All Filipino Conference 2018 elimination round games. Remember, she’s doing this with a partially-healed hitting shoulder. As the undisputed leader of the Cocolife offense, she will have to bring her A-game and spark her teammates to pull an upset over the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers in their knock-out quarterfinal showdown on Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Win or lose, Kalei Mau has already treated volleyball supporters on what she can bring to the table. Once her becomes confident about her shoulder, fans can savor the feast of highlights that she can provide once she plays for flag and country.