The De La Salle University women’s volleyball team has always been known for setting high standards in the UAAP and this can be attributed to the great program and recruitment which continuously produce great volleyball players again and again. Christine Joy Soyud, or Eli Soyud to many, is a testament to that stellar program.
Eli started playing volleyball when she was already a first year high school student. Just three years after she picked up the sport, she was spotted by one of coach Ramil De Jesus’ friends.
“Nung fourth year ako nakita ako nung friend ni coach Ramil tapos kami ni coach nagkita lang kami nung brother Ceci cup. Tapos nung nakita niya ko maglaro tinanong niya ako kung gusto ko mag La Salle, tapos kinuha niya number ko tapos yun na. Nag contact siya,” she shared.
Other universities also tried to recruit Eli but she eventually chose her dream school La Salle, “NU and FEU din lumapit sila to recruit pero kasi bago pa sila dumating nakakuha na ko ng exam sa DLSU. Hinihinatay nalang yung result. Kahit bago pa nag recruit si coach Ramil, sa La Salle ko talaga sana gusto mapunta pero para lang kasi sakin ang labo kasi ang layo ko. Hindi ko inexpect talaga na mapupunta ako sa La Salle”.
Road to the UAAP
During her first year as a DLSU Lady Spiker, Eli did not make it to the final line up of DLSU for the UAAP
“Expected ko naman yun kasi marami pa yung seniors. Kumpleto pa talaga yung line up ni coach kaya reserve muna ako. Okay lang naman sakin kasi marami pa naman talagang kulang sakin. Sabi nga ni coach hindi pa talaga hinog para isalang sa UAAP,” added the Lady Spiker rookie.
In the UAAP season 76 campaign of the Lady Spikers, Eli admitted that it was hard to watch from the sidelines especially when she watched her team lose their UAAP crown, “nung finals, yun yung time na sobrang naiinis ka na sa sarili mo kasi wala ka magawa. Nasa labas ka lang at nagcheecheer”.
Her experience from the sidelines motivated her to work hard to make it to the lineup “after ko mapanood matalo yung team sinabi ko talaga sa sarili ko na talagang kailangan next year makapaglaro na ko para makatulong ako sa team”.
Eli’s hard work indeed paid off as she was chosen by coach Ramil De Jesus to be part of DLSU’s lineup for UAAP season 77, “Hindi ko inexpect kasi madami kami. Parang may healthy competition din kasi kami sa team kung sino kukunin ni coach kaya iwas expectation din ako kasi mahirap din mag expect. Pero nung nakita ko na nasa lineup ako syempre na excite ako. Sobrang masaya kasi finally makakalaro na ko sa UAAP”.
First UAAP experience
In her first UAAP game donning the green and white, Eli got the shock of her life when the barker said her name during the announcement of the starting lineups “may sakit kasi si ate Cyd (Demecillo) nun pero nung time na biglang tinawag yung pangalan ko nagulat talaga ako. Hindi ko inexpect. As in nag lag ako kasi hindi ako makapaniwala. Syempre may kaba na halong natutuwa. Halo halo na naramdaman ko nun”.
“Kaya talagang ako pakundisyon lang lagi kasi hindi mo naman alam kung kalian ka tatawagin para maglaro. Mahirap din kasi yung tipong wala ka sa kundisyon tapos ipapasok ka bigla. Nandun lagi yung kaba na baka mas worse pa yung magawa mo dun sa pinalitan mo,” quipped Soyud.
The first meeting of rivals La Salle and Ateneo in UAAP season 77 volleyball was exciting as it reached five sets but what made it memorable for a lot of volleyball fans is the emphatic block that Eli Soyud had against the reigning UAAP MVP Alyssa Valdez, “that time kasi di ba sobrang haba nung rally, grabe na yung intensity sa loob ng court tapos na block ko siya. Syempre masaya sa feeling kasi score namin tapos crucial pa” says Eli “para sakin na rookie palang tapos ma block si valdez malaking bagay na yun kasi valdez yun e”.
That particular block garnered a lot of talk in social media as Eli showed a lot of emotion after she successfully blocked Valdez but according to Eli, she did not even realize that she reacted that way because of the long rally and the intensity inside the court.
Gaining bashers was inevitable but Eli handles her haters by doing what she does best, she simply blocks them, “yung mga nagsasabi nun hindi nila masyadong alam about volleyball. Minsan kasi yung iba nakikisali lang. Yung ganun naman kasi part lang ng game e. Pag may pages na malayo na yung sinasabi binoblock ko lang sila lahat”.
In that same game, Eli also experienced her first loss in the UAAP, “syempre masakit para samin yun kasi same team yung nakatalo, pero yung mindset naman namin after nun is dapat bumawi kami”.
In DLSU’s 2nd round meeting against the UP Lady Maroons Eli Soyud had a terrific performance, which resulted in her scoring a career-high 16 points. What is more impressive is that she got those points while playing a different position.
Eli only practiced as an open spiker for two days that’s why when coach Ramil decided to field her in as an outside hitter, she really had to make big adjustments.
After her impressive outing against UP she got praises from her coach but is still uncertain whether she will be converted to an open spiker or not, “hindi ko sure if gagawin na akong open. Sa ngayon training ako for both positions. Okay lang naman sakin kahit anong position basta wag lang libero”.
Now that the UAAP season 77 volleyball tournament is already half way done, people have already seen which teams could compete for the crown. For Eli, despite their first round loss to Ateneo, she still thinks that they would be able to get that championship, “ngayon sa second round kailangan na namin ma sweep kasi mahirap na if hindi. Pero kahit ano mangyari kakayanin namin kasi yung goal namin is maibilik yung crown talaga”.
As for individual awards, Eli has only one thing to say, “kahit sakanila na lahat ng individual awards basta sa amin yung championship”.