May 24, 2024

From barangay leagues to UAAP: UP rookie Pling Baclay grateful for opportunity, determined to achieve more with Fighting Maroons

From barangay leagues to UAAP: UP rookie Pling Baclay grateful for opportunity, determined to achieve more with Fighting Maroons
UP Fighting Maroons rookie Pling Baclay is already making waves in UAAP Season 86 after back-to-back career highs in blocks. Art by Mitzi Solano/One Sports

After back-to-back impressive performances, recording seven and nine blocks against the University of the East and National University, respectively, UP Fighting Maroons rookie Pling Baclay easily became the talk of the town.

It only seemed natural, as Baclay was just two blocks away from tying the league record set by former Ateneo Blue Eagles star and current Choco Mucho captain Maddie Madayag back in Season 81.

[ALSO READ: UAAP: UP rookie Pling Baclay’s career-high blocks draw comparison to former Ateneo star]

Already seen as a potential future in the league, many probably don’t realize that Baclay only started volleyball when she was in Grade 12—just two years ago.

In fact, a fan pointed out that the promising UP rookie only started playing the sport at the barangay level, before being recruited to a well-known volleyball program at Naga College Foundation (NCF).



“Actually, nag-start talaga ako like mga barangay league lang, 'yung mga purok league lang. Year 2022 parang straight na 'yung naglalaro kami barangay league tapos nakita ako ng coach doon taga samin lang din kaya parang interesado siyang i-train ako, kaya ayun siguro mga four months siguro or three months tinrain niya ako tapos parang may kinontact siya na mga taga-Manila na mga coaches,” Baclay told One Sports when asked to confirm about that particular side of her origin story.

“Ni-refer niya ako doon tapos pinuntahan ako ng coach ng taga-Naga. Doon na ako na-recruit [and] doon na ako nag-aral Grade 12 sa NCF,” she added.

Under NCF, Baclay played under coach Parley Tupaz, a former assistant coach of the Ateneo Blue Eagles, where they would go on to impress in the Shakey’s Girls Volleyball Invitational League.

Shortly after that, Baclay began receiving offers to play for UAAP teams, ultimately deciding to suit up for the Fighting Maroons in UP. 

Getting her opportunity and promptly delivering impressive performances, she is still amazed at how quick of a turnaround everything was for her.

“Nakaka-amaze kasi [nung] nag-start 'yung COVID parang dun ako nag-start na like ganito pala 'yung buhay ng mga UAAP players ganun. Parang nung year 2022 naging determinado talaga ako matuto mag-volleyball,” said Baclay.

“Nakaka-amaze lang kasi nangyari lahat parang ang bilis talaga ng nangyari. Grateful lang sa part na 'yun,” she added.

During UP’s last game versus the Ateneo, which ended in a 3-0 defeat, Baclay played sparingly with the return of Season 85 Best Middle Blocker Niña Ytang.

But even with likely limited minutes moving forward, the rookie middle blocker is more than happy and ready to contribute whatever she can to the team.

“Siyempre happy ako nung naka-laro nung last two games namin na nababad ako. Ngayon, I'm so happy kasi nakabalik si ate Niña, parang may katulong na din. Kumbaga mas tumatag 'yung team namin,” said Baclay.

After the Holy Week break, Baclay and the rest of the Fighting Maroons will look to pull of a stunning upset as they go up against De La Salle University on April 4 at the Mall of Asia Arena at 2:00 p.m.