When Princess Robles was tasked to be the team captain of National University, she knew from the get-go that it won’t be a walk in the park.
After being sidelined in the shortened Season 82 due to eligibility issues, Robles and the Lady Bulldogs had their extended time when Season 83 was scrapped amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
When she was assigned as team captain in Season 84 after the UAAP returned from a two-year lull, the only concern that Robles had back then was to help the rookies in their transition to the collegiate scene.
“Noong una pong in-assign ako bilang team captain, mahirap siya kasi syempre ‘yong mga bata parang high school feeling pa ‘yong feel nila [sa tournament],” said Robles, who eventually won the Finals Most Valuable Player plum. “Pero nung nitong ‘yong bubble na araw-araw kami magkakasama, parang ‘yong feeling na nagiging role moedal na rin ako sa kanila, mas naging madali ‘yong trabaho, ‘yong pag-lead ko sa kanila.”
The likes of Michaela Belen, Alyssa Solomon, Camilla Lamina, and Sheena Toring showed some fearsome revelation in the next years to come as super rookies of the Lady Bulldogs.
Belen became the first player in the league’s women’s volleyball history to win both Rookie of the Year and Season Most Valuable Player awards, following the same feat achieved by Marck Espejo of Ateneo in Season 76 for its men’s counterpart.
Solomon, Lamina, and Toring, for their part, won the Best Opposite Hitter, Best Setter, and #2 Best Middle Blocker honors, respectively.
Aside from raw talent, the bond that they have spent together in the juniors’ level proved to be instrumental heading into the 84th season.
“Sinusuportahan din nila (rookies). And suporta din kaming mga ates sa kanila. ‘Yong relationship namin sa isa’t isa, mas naging easy, mas madali,” added Robles.