MANILA, Philippines — Casiey Dongallo led California Academy last June to a perfect championship run in the Shakey’s Girls Volleyball Invitational League (GVIL) — their last title in high school — and emerged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.
Three months later, Dongallo will be leading her college team, the University of the East, in the Shakey’s Super League Preseason Championship.
The 18-year-old outside spiker, who has been putting on a show in the V-League Collegiate Challenge, admitted she and her fellow California Academy products are feeling the pressure of taking UE to greater heights because of their achievements in high school.
But she uses that pressure as motivation to become a better player as they prepare for the UAAP Season 86 next year, trying to lift the school from a 1-13 finish.
“Sa akin, pressure siya kasi kahit rookie pa lang ako, grabe na ang expectations sa kanila,” Dongallo told reporters. “Pero I use that pressure as my motivation, parang ‘Ay grabe, parang ganito na ang tingin ng mga tao sa akin.’ Kailangan kong ma-meet ang expectation nila and kailangan more pa. Parang, dapat hindi ko kailangang biguin ang expectations nila.”
(For me, I can feel the pressure even though I’m just a rookie because they have high expectations. But I use that pressure, the expectations as motivation. I need to meet their expectations and I have to do more so I won’t let their expectations down.”
Dongallo and fellow California stars Jelai Gajero, Kizzie Madriaga, and Grace Fernandez chose to join the Lady Red Warriors in college and have been living up to the expectations so far with a semifinal berth and a five-game winning streak in the V-League.
However, Dongallo and the Lady Red Warriors are facing a tough challenge after losing Gajero due to an ACL injury. But the prized rookie stressed that they can’t give up.
“Gelai is a big factor in our team, especially her attacks. But we can’t lose hope, it doesn’t mean that when Gelai is out and it’s over for UE,” Dongallo insisted in Filipino. “Our mindset after losing Gelai is everybody should step up to put up a good fight against our opponents.”
As UE nears the conclusion of its V-League campaign, it opens another one in the SSL when it battles Jose Rizal University on Sunday at 11 a.m.
The Lady Red Warriors are slated in Pool A, where they will also face UAAP runner-up and defending SSL preseason champion National University, which excites Dongallo as she battles stars Bella Belen and Alyssa Solomon on September 23.
“I’m excited to face NU. I haven’t faced them as a college team and we all know that NU is a top team and they also represent the Philippine national team,” Dongallo said. “As a UE player, we all know where UE ranks [in the previous seasons] We want to give NU a good fight.”
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