To tide themselves through the long wait for the UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball tournament, UST fans ponder who will make it to the 14-woman roster.
One of the tightest contests they followed was the three-way race between setters Alina Bicar, Mafe Galanza, and Maji Mangulabnan.
Though veteran Bicar was a sure frontrunner given her experience in the UAAP, some argued that rookies Galanza and Mangulabnan have what it takes to challenge their senior for the two slots.
In the end, Bicar, who is a better all-around player than her competitors, and Galanza, who is fluid in setting up plays, ended up as the top picks of UST coaches Emilio ‘Kung Fu’ Reyes and Yani Fernandez.
On getting cut from the roster, Mangulabnan, who is a homegrown talent from UST high school, says: “I somewhat expected the worst kasi it’s okay na kesa mag expect ako na lineup ako. Medyo na-frustrate ako sa sarili ko kasi hindi ko naman ginusto ‘yung mga nangyari. Pero tinanggap ko na lang.”
But what was the real reason behind her exclusion? A series of unfortunate events, said Mangulabnan.
“Naiwan ako nung PVL kasi na-injure ako sa tuhod before. And then nagka-dengue naman ako kaya hindi ako nakapag-Unigames. And then ‘yung course ko is medyo mahirap kaya hindi ko siya na-balance ng maayos. Pasado naman but nag struggle lang talaga,” shared the Speech Pathology student.
“Ngayon nakakahabol ako sa training pero not enough para ma-match ko ‘yung training nila Ate Alina (Bicar) and ni Mafe (Galanza) and I don’t want to be unfair na ako ang ma-lineup pero hindi pa naman ready ang katawan ko,” she added.
With no bad blood between her and her fellow setters, Mangulabnan continues to be a steady presence in UST’s training, assisting everyone who made the lineup to prepare for the rest of the competition.
Already looking ahead to her future as a student-athlete, Mangulabnan says: “Na-inspire din naman ako sa kanilang dalawa and at the same time nacha-challenge. I don’t know if Ate Alina would graduate next year so hindi pa natin sure kung lineup na ba ako by then. Pero tuloy ang laban.”
Asked what she can bring to the table for the Tigresses in the next seasons, Mangulabnan said her forte has always been crafting plays meant to confuse blockers—a skill she polished for years with batchmate Eya Laure.
“Personally, ma-play akong setter. Sa high school trabaho ko na ‘yun na paikutin ang spikers ko,” she said. “Ang weakness ko naman is ‘yung kundisyon ng katawan ko kasi mas malakas talaga sila (Bicar and Galanza) lalo na pag broken plays.”
As of UST’s first salvo in their 2019 campaign, Bicar and Galanza shared most of the setting chores while Laure, who used to be a setter for the Junior Tigresses, pinch-hit in a couple of stretches as a playmaker.
Their combined efforts resulted to 34 excellent sets and a win for the España crew against the resolute Adamson Lady Falcons.