Volleyball sweetheart eyes gold

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That gold belongs to Philippines, says rising star Dennise Lazaro.

The Filipina hot shot warned opponents:

“Training has been fruitful. We’ve come a long way.”

We’re hungry to get that coveted gold medal.”

Manila girl, 25:

► Turned back on medical studies to pursue volleyball.

► Plays defensive libero position in national team.

► Nicknamed ‘The Iron Eagle’ for combative skills on the court.

Such is volleyball’s popularity in Philippines …

► Players are considered bona fide sports stars.

► Country’s V-League is fiercely competitive.

► Gave opportunity for

players like Lazaro to shine

at college level, where

she represented Manila’s

Ateneo University.

With widespread attention, she stressed the importance of keeping her eye on the ball.

“It’s great so many people have come to appreciate the sport, although the attention may get overwhelming

for some.

“You have to know who you are, keep yourself in check, stay goal-oriented and keep both feet on the ground.”

Off the court, Lazaro is making a name for herself as a personality.

► Sportscaster of ABS-CBN’s volleyball round-up show Down The Line.

► Modelled for sports and fashion brands.

► Accrued 442,000 following on Instagram.

► Dennise has earned the

tag as Philippines’ “volleyball sweetheart”.

“I’m surprised they consider

me as such, but I’m flattered all the same.”