Killer spikes and killer looks. That’s a combination which is hard to beat in volleyball.
But Maria Paulina ‘Pau’ Soriano, one of the elite players to have played in the University of Athletic Association of the Philippines volleyball tournament and the Shakey’s V-League, has plenty of both.
A starter since her freshman year for the Adamson University Lady Falcons until her final playing year last season, the 21-year old Hospitality Management graduate never fails to attract attention with her superb plays whenever she’s inside the volleyball court, or out of it.
Known for her booming spikes and well-timed blocks, Pau has built a reputation as a skillful player with charming looks to boot. At 5-foot-7, Pau is actually small by today’s standards among volleyball players, but compensates for it with her high leap and her ability to change her body’s direction in mid-air.
In basketball, they call it ‘hangtime.’ But in volleyball, they named it after Pau, the ‘Queen of Diagonal Hit.”
The moniker came from volleyball commentators, who were obviously overwhelmed by Pau’s ability to twist in the air, while delivering those killer slams.
“Yun pong mga commentators and nagbansag ng ganun sa akin, kasi raw po nababago ko ‘yung direction ko kahit na nasa taas na ako,” Pau said.
Her skills had earned for her quite a number of accolades, such as a Most Valuable Player plum and Best Blocker award during the 2000 Palarong Pambansa in Palawan, Best Attacker in the 72nd UAAP season , and as a two-time Best Blocker in the Shakey’s V-League.
Pau learned the basics of the game at a very young age during her elementary days at Tandang Sora Elementary School in Banlat, Quezon City, from trainer Gideon Saludares and her first coach, Judith Caluya.
From there, Pau brought her talent to Ernesto Rodon High School. While still a third-year high school student in 2007 Pau was noticed by a scout who eventually brought her to Adamson U after she finished high school.
At the Falcons’ lair, Pau blossomed into a complete player, having played almost all positions in the court, as a utility, open spiker and eventually, as a center spiker.
Today, Pau is one of the most recognizable players in the volleyball circuit, even after graduating from Adamson U.
Her superb plays earned her tons of admirers, which she says boosts her confidence whenever she plays.
“Siyempre po nakakatuwa din ‘yung may maririnig mo na may nagche-cheer sa iyo, kasi mas ginaganahan kang maglaro. Meron ding mga detractors, pero okey lang iyon kasi part na yun ng competition,” she says.
Pau may have reached elite status in competitive volleyball, but she says that she still asks herself after every game how she could still improve her game.
In fact, Pau is the type of player who does not look at how well she performed after the game, but how many errors she had committed.
“Hindi po ako tumitingin sa points. ‘Yung mga errors ang tinitingnan ko, kasi iniisip ko kailangan hindi ko na uli magawa yun sa next game namin,” Pau says.
As a volleyball player, Pau and the rest of her teammates in the Adamson team in the V-League spend most of the day perfecting their skills. They train five days a week and three hours a day. Training includes road runs, lifting weights, conditioning, drills and tune-up games under the watchful eyes of head coach Sherwin Meneses.
Now that she had finished her five-years stint with the Lady Falcons in the UAAP, Pau looks forward to playing more volleyball in the Shakey’s V-League as a guest player, or eventually as a coach, before she set her sights in fulfilling her other goal in life.
“Ang talagang dream ko pa talaga ay maging isang flight stewardess, pero kung mabibigyan po ako ng opportunity na makapaglaro pa o kaya mag-coach, why not?,” she says.
But for now, Pau says she’s enjoying her stint as a volleyball player, as she savors the bond and camaraderie among her teammates in the V-League.
“Masaya po kami kahit talagang nakakapagod din kung minsan. Maganda po ang samahan namin, pati na with coach Sherwin. Ito kasi talaga ang gusto ko mula pa noong bata pa ako,” says Pau.
With a competitive spirit honed by years of playing volleyball, Pau would definitely soar in another career, but for her legion of fans, Maria Paulina ‘Pau’ Soriano would remain one of the undisputable ‘queens’ of the game.