CAGAYAN DE ORO – Erika Raagas, the hometown hero, basked in the outpouring of love and support from her family and fellow Cagayanons during a triumphant homecoming at the Aquilino Q. Pimentel International Convention Center on Saturday.
Returning to the City of Friendship for the first time since donning the Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles jersey in the UAAP several years ago, Raagas found herself humbled by the warm reception. The 5-foot-7 opposite hitter, now playing for the Akari Chargers, was greeted by more than 80 enthusiastic supporters, including family and friends who filled the arena to witness her in action against the Gerflor Defenders.
"It's super humbling to see the people I grew up with, the ones who supported me from the very beginning. It feels so light-hearted to come back here," shared Raagas, who contributed five crucial points in Akari's triumphant 25-18, 25-15, 25-19 victory, breaking their three-game losing streak.
While facing a challenging opponent, Raagas struggled to find her rhythm but remained determined to showcase the player she has become. Her motivation extended beyond the game, as she aimed to repay the unwavering support that helped her rise to her current stature.
"I'm excited. I was really looking forward to this. I knew that this would be one of the chances for some of my family members to finally watch me play since I moved to Manila, especially my grandparents because they've always supported me from the very beginning. So, I'm super happy to be here," expressed the 23-year-old, an alumna of nearby Corpus Christi High School.
Beyond personal sentiments, Raagas celebrated not only her homecoming but also the Chargers' breakthrough in the Premier Volleyball League Second All-Filipino Conference. Reflecting on the team's past challenges, she emphasized the importance of a forward-looking approach to enhance their playoff chances.
"We're going to take this one game at a time because, from the very beginning, we know every single game is just as important as the last. Instead of dwelling on past games, we're going to look forward, focus on ourselves, identify where we went wrong, and work on it even more," Raagas concluded with determination in her eyes.