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Talking with Ateneo Lady Eagles rookie Jules Samonte
by rick olivares pic by arvin lim
The “new look” Ateneo Lady Eagles made their season debut last Monday, August 1, in the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference.
Last year’s UAAP Women’s Volleyball first runner-ups missed three key players who were out with minor injuries — open spiker Jhoana Maraguinot and middle hitters Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag (not to mention the graduation of three-time league Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez, utility spiker Amy Ahomiro, and middle hitter Mae Tajima).
So their starting line-up featured two starters in setter Jia Morado and libero Gizelle Tan with returnees Ana Gopico and Michelle Morente who missed last season on account of injury and academics, Ponggay Gaston, and rookie Julianne “Jules” Samonte.
The Lady Eagles succumbed to the Technological Institute of the Philippines Lady Engineers in five sets (26-24, 14-25, 25-21, 18-25, 15-12) yet showed a lot of promise. And one of them was Samonte.
The five-foot-nine middle hitter from De La Salle Zobel who was UAAP Season 78’s Best Scorer in the Girls Division scored seven points including two from blocks. Right now, in the Lady Eagles’ Shakey’s V-League line-up, she is one of two rookies including Bettina Abella.
We spoke with Samonte (who will be taking up Management when the school year starts in a few weeks) after the match during a birthday dinner for Ateneo teammate Bea De Leon (at Spice & Cleaver in Estancia, Capital Commons).
Q: Not a bad debut — despite the loss. How would you assess the team’s and your individual performance?
Jules: We could certainly do much better. It would have been nice to get a win and make it memorable but we had too many errors. I hope I did okay. I still have a lot to learn. I was really nervous when I went out there but my teammates helped me overcome my nerves and fear.
Q: How’s that about your teammates helping you?
Jules: One of the things that left a good impression on me when I first practiced with the team was the niceness of everyone. They made me feel welcome right away. I was nervous. Did I just say that again? (laughs nervously) I wanted to do well. I joined a very good team even if they lost Ate Alyssa (Valdez) and the others. As a rookie, you want to do well and earn your place on the team. Everyone was encouraging me. That helped me a lot.
Q: Coach Tai (Anusorn Bundit) can be quite the drill master and taskmaster. You’ve heard of him before however from the outside. What’s it like now playing and training under him?
Jules: It’s hard (she says rather sheepishly and clearly choosing her words). But he knows and wants what is best for us. You can see how he has developed the other players so I am sure that I can learn a lot.
Q: Last question for now. How’s that shade of blue and white on you?
Jules: (smiling) Not bad at all. It’s what I expect it all to be. I think it’s cool.