@UConnVB | Philippine Super Liga
STORRS, Conn. -- Gampel Pavilion felt like home for recent UConn graduate Rebecca Rivera over the past three seasons, but the volleyball alum is playing in front of a true home crowd now as a member of the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors.
After completing her senior season and receiving her anthropology degree in May, Rivera was not done playing volleyball. With some help from former assistant coaches, she is playing in Manila, located in the Philippines -- where most of her family lives.
"I have a lot of family here and am currently living with my uncle," said Rivera. "I went to the Philippines multiple times when I was young, but the last time I was here was 2006."
A bit of a homecoming for Rivera has also allowed her the chance to continue her volleyball career on the professional stage. Sta. Lucia competes in the Philippine Super Liga, a league Rivera heard about from watching teams on television in her hometown of Mississauga, Ontario.
Upon deciding to continue her playing career, Rivera focused on earning a spot in the Philippine league and received some help from a pair of former assistant coaches.
"(Current) assistant coach Matt Scott helped me put together a highlight video, and my (former) assistant coach Ed Tolentino reached out to the league and Sta. Lucia was the team that quickly replied," said Rivera. "I was very interested in what they had to offer, so it was an easy decision."
It is the latest move for Rivera, who originally attended the University at Albany for her freshman season prior to her transfer to UConn in 2014. She was part of the first team to play under head coach Kris Grunwald.
"In terms of my daily life, I still have training every day like I did back at UConn. There haven't been differences, other than I don't have school work to do," said Rivera. "Playing and training for volleyball is my primary job."
Sta. Lucia is a fairly new team in the Philippine Super Liga with a lot of youth on the roster, but Rivera believes the potential is there to be a threat to many top teams in the league.
Appearing in 90 matches as a setter for the Huskies, Rivera learned valuable lessons during her time in the program that are proving transferable to her current team.
"At UConn, I learned it is important to be open to changes; also to have good relationships with teammates, coaches and staff, while always working hard on and off the court," said Rivera.
In her UConn career, Rivera recorded 59 matches with at least 20 assists, while leading the Huskies in assists as a sophomore (664) and junior (692). Her career-high 45 assists came against ECU on Nov. 25, 2015.
"I can honestly say that I love it here (in the Philippines). I have a great team and great coaching staff," said Rivera. "I am extremely blessed for the opportunity the team is giving me."