Rookies shine as NCAA volleyball Players of the Week

Rookies shine as NCAA volleyball Players of the Week
San Beda University’s Van Book (left) and Gia Maquilang of Colegio de San Juan de Letran.

MANILA, Philippines – Two rookies took center stage and embraced the spotlight in a grand arrival as the NCAA Season 99 volleyball wars kicked off in style.

First-year outside hitters Gia Maquilang of Colegio de San Juan de Letran and San Beda University’s Van Book steered their respective schools to perfect slate in the opening week, emerging as the new heroes for the Lady Knights and the Red Spikers.

Their performances didn’t go unnoticed, being named as the Collegiate Press Corps’ NCAA Players of the Week presented by the San Miguel Corporation for the period April 7 to 14.

Maquilang, a 20-year-old highflyer, did not disappoint in her first two games by scoring 17 points plus eight receptions in Letran’s 16-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-17 win over Season 97 finalist Arellano University last Wednesday.

She followed it up with 19 markers and 11 digs as the Muralla-based crew bested University of Perpetual Help System Dalta for the first time in four years after pulling off a rare 25-21, 25-20, 30-28 sweep last Saturday to remain unbeaten in the tourney.

The Bohol native prevailed over Joan Doguna of Lyceum and Michelle Gamit of two-time defending champion Benilde for the weekly award supported by minor sponsors Discovery Suites and Jockey.

“Masaya po tapos may konting pressure kasi natural lang po 'yun. Tapos lagi kaming pinu-push ni Coach O (Oliver Almadro) na ‘wag kang matakot. Be positive,’” Maquilang, who led Letran to the NCAA beach volleyball title just months ago, said.

“Sinasabi po lagi ni Coach O na face our fears at may tiwala po siya sa amin dahil nag-practice po kami para rito.”

Meanwhile, Book did not waste any time as he quickly established himself as the new pillar for the Red Spikers with a quick 3-0 record atop the men's division.

Book, also a 20-year-old standout from Cagayan de Oro, scored 24 points and 12 receptions against Lyceum last Tuesday before erupting for 32 points against Saint Benilde on Friday alongside four digs.

But his sweetest victory came last Sunday after he delivered 21 points in San Beda’s 25-17, 25-19, 22-25, 25-18 triumph over his former school San Sebastian College-Recoletos. Book was recruited by the Stags during the pandemic but wasn't able to suit up en route to transferring to San Beda.

“Syempre masaya kasi parang bumawi ako sa kanila. Wala naman po akong masamang intensyon. Gusto ko lang pong manalo para masaya ang team namin,”the 6-foot-1 Book said.

“Hindi ko naman aakalain na ako ang magdadala ng scoring sa team. Pressured po ako kasi kailangan ko pong galingan kasi yun po ang nakita nila sa akin.”

Book bested San Sebastian's Kyle Villamor, Marvin Romero of Emilio Aguinaldo College, and reigning MVP Louie Ramirez of three-peat champion Perpetual for the weekly honor in the men’s play.

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