ONLY one month in an F2 Logistics and Iris Tolenada is playing like a long-time Cargo Movers.
The Filipino-American setter easily blended into the F2 Logistics system and joined the Cargo Movers in crowning themselves as the first Philippine National Volleyball Federation Champions League winners.
Tolenada played a vital role in helping the Cargo Movers complete a 5-0 campaign without dropping a set on Thursday at the Aquamarine Recreational Center in Lipa City. She went on to win the Best Setter award.
“This is an amazing feeling. Coming in to this program, I knew it is a championship team. I have been a champion before and I was really excited to experience another one with these girls,” said Tolenada, who overcame late game struggles in the title clincher thanks to her teammates led by MVP Kim Kianna Dy.
“Today I didn’t play my best game. But the great thing about a solid team and a solid family is everyone has each other’s back and that’s what they did today,” she said after the Cargo Movers formally clinched the crown following a 25-20, 25-20, 25-22 victory over Chery Tiggo. “They carried me through. They still believed in me. They stuck with me and that means a championship in itself.”
The San Francisco State University product was delighted to play under multi-titled collegiate and club champion Coach Ramil de Jesus who boosted her confidence.
“Playing for coach Ramil has been great because I’m also getting better at the game. You know I’m 30 years old and I’m still learning a lot from him and that’s so exciting for me as a player. To keep growing,” Tolenada said.
“I understand why people want to play for him. I understand why he is a champion coach like the way he runs his programs and the way he is on and off the court. It’s amazing,” she said. “He feels like a dad. He feels like a family and they welcomed me with open arms ever since I stepped to the gym.”
In a recent interview, de Jesus said that Tolenada is coachable and the national team mainstay was happy to hear that from the man who steered De La Salle and F2 Logistics to several championships.
“That’s amazing. I’m glad. That’s how I am raised and that’s the only way to be better is to be coachable, and be open to feedback and get excited to get better. And get excited to fail before you succeed even more,” Tolenada said.
Despite the short preparation, the Cargo Movers still won it all.
When Tolenada entered F2 Logistics’ Lipa City training bubble after her stint in the Asian Women’s Club Volleyball Championship last month, the challenge was so tremendous being the team’s main setter.
But she passed with flying colors.
“Everything was worth it. All the tears, all the sweat, all the blood,” Tolenada said. “Winning the championship with this team is just the best feeling.”