Eya Laure, Imee Hernandez sign with Chery Tiggo after UST farewell
By Rob Andrew Dongiapon
Long-time cogs of the UST volleyball program, Eya Laure and Imee Hernandez have turned professional, signing with the Chery Tiggo Crossovers of the Premier Volleyball League, the team announced on Sunday morning, May 28.
They joined fellow UAAP stalwarts and outgoing NU Lady Bulldogs Jennifer Nierva, Princess Robles, and Joyme Gagande, who were introduced yesterday by the team in a series of social media posts.
The announcement came a few days after Laure and Hernandez bid their goodbyes to the UST community on their respective social media accounts.
“Para akong nakikipag-break sa libu-libong tao and my heart shattering into pieces. Ang sakit at ang hirap mag mapaalam,” Laure penned for the Thomasian community.
“Patawad dahil hindi ko naibigay yung championship na deserve niyo,” she added.
Laure, who served as team captain of the Golden Tigresses for the past two seasons, forwent her final year of eligibility after a 12-year run that stretched back to her high school days.
Laure’s return in Espana was staggering — -earning rookie of the year, best setter, best attacker, and most valuable player honors in high school alongside a juniors title in Season 76, before entering the seniors division with another rookie of the year plum in 2019, where she was a key force in UST’s runners-up finish in Season 81.
In the college level, however, Laure never found the same success, falling out of the final four in 2022, and in 2023, despite being the top scorer of the tournament on those consecutive seasons.
“To the UST Community, salamat at pinakita niyo ulit sa amin ang Sea of Yellow. Walang makakapantay na suporta ang pinakita niyo,” Laure said.
“Parang sasabog ang dibdib ko sa sobrang laki ng pasasalamat na meron ako sa inyo,” she added.
Laure now has an opportunity to redeem herself as a crossover, joining the likes of her sister EJ Laure, Pauline Gaston, and Mylene Paat.
Chery Tiggo, then led by Jaja Santiago, won the 2021 Premier Volleyball League (PVL) title in 2021 — which was the first-ever fully professional volleyball league in the Philippines.
On the other hand, Hernandez finished her stint with the Tigresses after just two full seasons and a pandemic-ravaged one in 2020.
“Now that I am done with my studies, with [the UST community] by my side, I am more than ready to face the bigger challenges that lie ahead as I continue to pursue my passion for the game of volleyball on a grander stage and under brighter lights,” Hernandez wrote.
Hernandez, whose career in UST dates back to 2014, had her best season this year, earning a Player of the Week honor in the second round after recording her career-best tally of 24 points in the Tigresses’ win over the Ateneo Blue Eagles on April 16.
“I have decided to go professional,” Hernandez added as she looks to find her role in a Chery Tiggo loaded with middle blockers such as Jaycel Delos Reyes, Jaila Atienza, and Roselle Baliton.
Hernandez averaged 11.35 points per game for UST in Season 85, in which the team only finished fourth for the second straight year.
“I feel it in my heart that I must take this step for my own growth not just as an athlete, but as an individual,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez and Laure will be the new faces of a Chery Tiggo squad that finished fifth in the PVL’s All-Filipino Conference earlier this year.
They are expected to see action in the upcoming 2023 PVL Invitational Conference slated on June 29 — albeit not for the black, gold, and white anymore, but now for the cherry red and white of the Crossovers.