MANILA, Philippines — Spirited coach Tina Salak wants the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws to channel the same energy she had when she was still playing for the team.
FEU stopped University of the Philippines from extending the match as Alyzza Devosora scored back-to-back clutch spikes to reach match point, 25-24, followed by a costly attack error by Steph Bustrillo to complete a 25-16, 23-25, 25-17, 26-24 victory in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The renowned setter and now FEU coach was ecstatic in her celebration as her team ended an 11-game skid dating back to last season.
“I want them to play the way I did when I was with the (FEU) team before. I want a childlike attitude without being afraid of what other people will say, regardless of the emotions that you show out there,’’ said Salak in Filipino after a successful debut.
“I want them to express their game because they love it. The more you love the game, the more you express it no matter what reason,” she added.
Salak, a 1995 UAAP MVP and two-time champion, made sure to keep her players’ spirits up despite falling to the brink of losing the fourth set to UP.
“I keep reminding them that MOA is ours. Why we will give it to them? Our mentality is to own the moment regardless of the venue we’re playing. We can’t waste the opportunity just because of a misunderstanding or any emotions involved. We have to stay focused,” said the lone female coach in the league this season.
Salak, though, her players, led by setter Tin Ubaldo and spikers Jovelyn Fernandez and Chenie Tagaod, to step out of her shadows.
“It’s not about me anymore. My focus is on them. This is their time and I’m here to guide them,” Salak said.
Despite the season-opening win, Salak said that the Lady Tamaraws are still far from where she wants the team to be.
“We also want to bring back the glory days of FEU. But we’re not yet there. And it’s too soon to say. What’s important is we’re working [to go] there,” Salak said.
“Whatever my experience as a player I translate it to the team, even the little details that they have to follow. I want them to express how they want to play and then the results will follow as part of the process. I want them to be there and enjoy every moment,” she added.
But Salak believes they already slayed the ghost of last season’s disappointing finish, ushering in a new era under her leadership this year.
“I think this win will supposedly separate us from the ghost of last season. This one is big for us. There is no reason to look back on that ugly experience. We’re moving forward,” she said.
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