Considering there were other more high profile volleybelles on the board, it was unlikely that Iari Yongco was going to be picked high at the recent Philippine SuperLiga draft held on April 2 at the NBA Café in Taguig. But there she was, selected third by the RC Cola Raiders after Dindin Santiago and Aby Marano.
For those who do not know, Yongco is a product of one of the best volleyball programs south of Metro Manila – the De La Salle University-Dasmarinas Patriots, a perennial champion at the Universities and Colleges Athletics Association as well as the National Capital Region Athletic Association, and also a regular representative of Region IV-A at the national level of the Private Schools Athletic Association. Unlike their NCR-based brethren though, the Patriots rarely get the recognition and the attention.
“Yung school namin hindi nat-TV,” Yongco said. “Sana maging proud ang school ko sa akin dahil dala ko yung school ko.”
What made her stand out among her Cavite-based peers was her being able to play at the Petron Beach Volleyball tournament and being part of the national squad that participated in the qualifiers of the FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship last year.
Yongco originally studied in Far Eastern University before transferring to DLSU-D so that she can go to a school nearer where she lives. It was in FEU where she first learned to play the sport upon the prodding of her father Ireneo, a former Tamaraw spiker.
“Sabi niya mag-try ako sa FEU. Nakuha naman gawa ng height ko, pero wala talaga akong alam kahit mag-dig, pass. Ginagaya ko lang yung ginagawa ni Ate Rachel (Daquis),” mentioned the eldest of three female spikers in the family currently playing the sport semi-professionally or in college. “Dati tinatanong ako ni coach Kit (Santos) sa FEU-Manila kung ano posisyon ko, hindi ko alam ang posisyon ko. Tapos nag-training lang (ako).”
She might be a late bloomer, but the 5-10 Bacoor, Cavite native learned the ropes quickly with the help of her genes. Younger sister Iumi is also at DLSU-D, about to graduate with a Communications degree, while Iona transferred from De La Salle-Dasmarinas to Emilio Aguinaldo College-Manila.
“Hindi ko alam na volleyball player ang dad ko. Nalaman ko lang pagkatapos ko mag-high school. Si coach Kit, naging coach pa ng dad ko,” the Tourism Management major shared. (JP Abcede)
Can’t get enough of Iari? You should read this interview by Solar Sports.