SportsMelissa Gohing: The Ninja’s journey
Melissa Gohing: The Ninja’s journey
April 6, 2013
April 6, 2013

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A perfectly executed point in volleyball all starts with a great reception, and while majority of the spectators focus on who scored, they rarely notice the importance of who initiates the play. The importance of the libero position is often overlooked and La Salle’s Melissa Gohing is no exception.

La Salle has risen to prominence as the top team in UAAP Women’s Volleyball behind their impeccable defense anchored by Gohing who has been one of the best floor defenders in the league. This season, the Lady Spikers accomplished yet another hard-earned championship, their third straight, with the help of their graduating libero, Melissa Gohing.

“The ninja,” as many of her supporters call her, finished her UAAP stint with four titles and one bridesmaid finish, making it to the finals during every year of her career. She played the libero role for the Green-and-White squad and has been winning them games through the little things–the saves, digs, and hustle points that do not come out in the post-game statistics.

 

Rise to prominence

She started playing volleyball back in the 6th grade for Hope Christian High School. She admitted, “It wasn’t really my plan to join volleyball because I was into ballet and cheerdance so medyo malayo.” Back then, she played as a utility spiker.

She began to truly display her potential in high school and she represented the National Capital Region in the Palarong Pambansa alongside Fille Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio, and Gem Ferrer, who all became her rivals in the collegiate level. Scouted as one of the rising talents in high school volleyball, she landed in La Salle where she got the opportunity to learn from one of the top coaches in volleyball, Ramil de Jesus.

Gohing affirms that coach Ramil was very concise regarding the traits that he wanted from his liberos. “Kelangan matapang ka pag libero ka, hindi ka dapat takot sa bola. Yung requirement ng isang libero is hindi lang sa skill, kung hindi pati sa puso at yung tipong magpapakamatay ka sa bola,” she shared.

 

Five years of excellence

As far back as her rookie season with the Lady Spikers, Gohing had her fair share of undoubtedly impressive achievements. There was a match wherein she was named as the best player of the game, a very rare feat considering her position as the libero. The highlight of that season for her though was winning the UAAP championship while also claiming the Rookie of the Year award.

The 21-year old Gohing considers her sophomore year to be the low point of her DLSU career since it was in that year that they were the first runner-ups of the UAAP after falling to the University of Santo Tomas in the finals. The disappointment served as a wake-up call for Gohing and the Lady Spikers who used the loss as inspiration to claim three straight championships in the succeeding years, winning the most recent last March.

During the recently concluded Season 75, the Lady Spikers started off their campaign with a loss to the UST Tigresses which was completely unexpected and caused critics to doubt their ability to win a third straight championship. After that loss though, it was nothing but victories for the team as they carried the momentum until the championship round, winning their final 15 games of the season. In the finals, the versatile libero continued to help La Salle with limiting the offensive weapons of the Ateneo Lady as she played what was perhaps her best finals stint as a Lady Spiker.

With just two points separating the Lady Spikers from their third straight championship, skipper Aby Marano had emotional words for the graduating libero. “Parang nagfa-flashback, kasi si Aby (Marano) nung last two points, sinabi niya ‘para sayo to’ tapos sobrang parang naiiyak na ko,” Gohing shared.

In her opinion, the team’s success over the years was not purely because of talent but it was a product of how well they jived together. “We’re not just physically prepared. So yung nakahelp sa success siguro is yung pag bond ng team. We treat ourselves not just teammates but as a family,” she explained.

 

The journey continues

Like all graduating players who wish for a successful exit, Gohing’s aspiration of not just winning the title but also playing on the big stage such as the Araneta Coliseum and the Mall of Asia Arena came true during the 75th UAAP Season. Gohing, who has used up her UAAP eligibility, has decided to pursue a different field and move on from volleyball.

The fearsome libero expressed her gratitude towards the ever-growing fan base of the Lady Spikers. “Nakakasurprise kasi lalo na nung finals we were thinking na pano namin napuno tong arena (MoA). And I’m really very happy kasi napapansin yung mga pinaghihirapan ng girls,” she added later on.

The countless hours of hard-work, all the bruises from rolling all over the volleyball court and the steady leadership of Gohing will all be remembered by the Lasallian community and she has definitely left big shoes to fill in the libero spot.

As she walks away from Taft Avenue with all of her awards and accomplishments, the Lady Spikers are faced with the daunting and unenviable task of finding and developing another libero with the same calibre as the now-legendary Gohing.