How far is Celine Domingo from peak physical form?

A little more than a month before the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball tournament raises its curtain, FEU’s Celine Domingo admits she is still far from her lethal form.

“Siguro nasa 60% pa lang ako right now. Nahihirapan pa rin ako. May plays pa rin ako na hindi kayang gawin,” Domingo told Volleyverse.

Back in September, the middle blocker suffered a knee injury while slugging it out in Game 2 of the PVL Collegiate Conference Finals against eventual champion UP Lady Maroons. 

After tests and consultations, Domingo was told about her degenerative meniscus which, according to an article by the World Journal of Orthopedics, results from repetitive normal forces acting upon a worn down meniscus.

Describing what it was like to sit out games for FEU and her semi-pro team Smart Giga Hitters, Domingo says: “Ang sakit nung nasa gilid ka lang kasi volleyball is life. Ang hirap na ‘yung nakasanayan mo mababagong bigla.”

Having spent two and a half months in therapy, she is slowly but surely easing her way back into FEU’s training program which, at the moment, is at a crucial juncture with the UAAP looming on the horizon.

But more than the physical aspect of her recovery, Domingo is more wary of the voice of fear inside her head—one that reminds her of that unfortunate day she sustained the injury.

“Natatakot pa rin ako na baka pag landing ko maulit ‘yung nangyari,” she shared. “Nagdo-double time ako sa strengthening and conditioning. Pero ‘yung takot kasi hindi ‘yun basta nawawala eh.”

A key asset for the Lady Tamaraws’ net defense

Already suffering a major blow in floor defense with the departure of Bernadeth Pons and Kyla Llana Atienza, FEU could use Domingo’s blocking prowess along with fellow middle blockers Czarina Grace Carandang and Jeanette Villareal to lighten the load of their floor defenders.

There is nothing Domingo would rather do than to help the Lady Tamaraws match or even surpass their Season 80 feat. 

“Excited na medyo mixed emotions kasi Ate (Bernadeth) Pons and Ate Kyla (Atienza) big loss ‘yan eh. Tapos ang dami naming bago. Actually nga, hanggang ngayon medyo kapaan pa rin kami kasi kakabalik lang namin together from different tournaments,” she said. 

Reiterating her desire to conquer her fears, she adds: “I want to help the team pero I have to help myself muna para matulungan ko sila.”

Banking on the unparalleled vibe of the UAAP that brings out the best in student-athletes like her, Domingo closed by saying that somehow, some way, the loud drums, the high-octane action, and the thousands of volleyball fans cheering in unison will take away whatever fear she has left.

“Pag nag start naman UAAP mawawala na ‘yan lahat. Based on experience kasi before pag nasa loob ka na ng court wala ka nang ibang iniisip pa. Pag UAAP iba talaga ‘yung spirit na sumasapi sa players,” said Domingo.

The FEU Lady Tamaraws just completed a four-day training camp in Baguio, making them one step closer to naming the 14 players who will make it to their Season 81 line-up.