This appears on philstar.com
The time is now for Nicole Tiamzon and the UP Lady Maroons
by rick olivares
There’s a sense of “now” for Nicole Tiamzon.
Four years ago, she walked in – yes, walked in – for a tryout with the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons Volleyball Team along with Kathy Bersola and Princess Gaiser. The team wasn’t very good at the time she entered. The previous UAAP Season 74, the team didn’t win a single game. The elfin-like five-foot-six Tiamzon along with her two fellow walk-ins found a place on the team and UP climbed a notch to seventh place as UE began its current slide into mediocrity.
The next two seasons, the Lady Maroons remained stuck in neutral at sixth place until an infusion of talented rookies in Isa Molde, Diana Carlos, and Justine Dorog gave UP more weapons.
UP team finally booked a Final Four slot last season and made all sorts of noises about crowding Ateneo and La Salle at the top. Unfortunately, they were swept out of the semis by Ateneo in three sets.
With a year of experience under the belt of the rookies and some other bench players finally getting to show their wares, UP is loaded for a glorious run and Tiamzon is excited.
“This is our (the veterans) last chance to win a collegiate title,” observed Tiamzon who for a while last season wondered if she would play out her final year. “It is good to see the UP program finally wake up. I’ve seen the tough times and now, the good times. And I am grateful that our fans have now come out. Hopefully, we can finish better.”
While Bersola is team captain, Tiamzon and Gaiser also share in the leadership roles. After all, this is a team that needs every hand on deck talent-laden or not. “We have to give everything to this season and not leave anything to chance. We’ve all sacrificed a lot and it would be a waste to see it all go away if we don’t bring our best. For me personally, I will not get another chance in the collegiate level.”
For years Tiamzon did what she was asked. A natural open spiker who packs a lot of power in her thin frame, she has been tasked to play setter when the starting playmaker falters. She’s been shifted to the opposite position and even sometimes to the middle.
While she appreciates the showcase of her myriad skills, she admits it can be tough. “It isn’t easy changing your mindset. Before a game, you visualize what you will do playing this position then mid-way in the game, I change to another position. It can be very difficult and at times trying,” she admitted. “But I will do what it takes for my team to win.”
Tiamzon has been called out for her seriousness on the court; brandishing a poker face that hardly breaks into a smile. “I can smile when the situation calls for it but I will be serious when the game begins. I think that we can’t really smile because we haven’t accomplished much. It wasn’t fun to be losing so how can you smile when you‘re losing? We smile when we have to but not to the point of being complacent.”
Amongst themselves, the Lady Maroons have talked about their chances for the new season. The current Reinforced Conference of the Shakey’s V-League is the tourney before the UAAP. Head coach Jerry Yee is playing his bench giving others an opportunity to play elite teams to soak in experience.
“We all have our eyes on the goal, on the prize. Hopefully, by the end of it all, we will be rewarded for our efforts.”