Petron's Pia Gaiser keeps volleyball dream alive

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 10) — When Pia Gaiser unexpectedly had to end her collegiate career after tearing her left anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) March 2017, she thought she'd never play volleyball again.

"I really didn't know na makakapaglaro pa 'ko ng volleyball. Noong UAAP, maraming lumalapit sakin. Then nung na-ACL ako, wala nang lumalapit sa'kin," Gaiser said in an interview on CNN Philippines' Sports Desk.

[Translation: I really didn't know I could still play volleyball. When I was in the UAAP, many were approaching me. But after my ACL injury, no one was talking to me anymore.]

"I didn't know if I was going to have a team or not (after UAAP)," she added.

READ: UAAP Women’s Volleyball: UP’s Gaiser ends collegiate career with ACL tear

UAAP Season 79 was supposedly Gaiser's last year with the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons. But after twisting her left knee while waiting to receive the ball on the last game of the season's first round, her team was forced to power through the second round with one less libero.

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But ten months of volleyball hiatus is now over for the volleyball star, as she signed with the Petron Blaze Spikers first week of January.

"It's fully recovered. I went to my doctor and sabi niya pwede na 'ko maglaro (and she said I could play). I can do whatever I want to do. I can run, I can jog, I can do my tumblings and whatever," she said of her knee.

"Sobrang happy ko talaga kasi I didn't know na sa Petron pa talaga ako mapupunta na team," she added.

She said the team treats her like family even as a rookie, welcoming her with open arms on their first day of training.

For Gaiser, Petron's decision to invite her to be part of the already-packed squad is overwhelming. She admits she almost ruled out building a professional career in volleyball, especially after her mom told her not to force it anymore if her body is no longer fit to play competitively.

"Sabi nung mom ko, if I fail (the hop test) then that's a sign na wag ka nang maglaro ng volleyball. I didn't fail."

[Translation: My mom told me if I fail the hop test, it's a sign that I should quit volleyball. I didn't fail.]

The hop test is a commonly used test to ensure athletes are ready to return to their sport after an injury.

Although her knee still hurts sometimes, her doctor assured her it's normal as it will take a while for her body to get used to the drills again.

The Philippine SuperLiga may be a new league for the fresh graduate, but she said she'll keep playing just like how she always did—giving her best in every game.

"I always give it my all every game, because you'll never know when it's your last. Like what happened to me after my ACL injury. I learned from that, that you don't know when it's gonna end so just do your best every day," Gaiser said.