17 May 2019
By Maxine Louise Lagman
The Ateneo De Manila University had a stellar performance, stopping University of Santo Tomas from nabbing the championship crown in the Game 2 of the Best-of-Three Finals at the University of Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 81 women’s volleyball at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Will they have a chance to bring back the crown to Katipunan, or will they succumb to the claws of the Tigresses and lose this year’s title?
A strong competitor
For eight years, the Ateneo Lady Eagles proved to be a top competitor when it comes to volleyball. Since Season 72, the team had a total of two bronze medals, 4 silver medals, and back-to-back championship titles.
The Lady Eagles were on a roll back in Seasons 76 to 77, with the heroics of ‘The Phenom’ Alyssa Valdez, Bea Tan, Denden Lazaro, Jia Morado and Michelle Morente. However, the team failed to secure the top spot in the following years – always settling in for a runner-up against rivals De La Salle University Lady Spikers.
Though this year, the team definitely showed their true colors and aimed for the top early in the league, eventually taking a comfortable seat at the first place until the Finals round.
The crowd of blue and white is back in the arena after a year, crying “One Big Fight” once again, to boost the team’s morale and confidence.
Grasping for redemption
After being swept in the Game 1 of the Best-of-Three Finals, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, the Lady Eagles soared from their nests and emerged as the victor in Game 2 with a 26-24, 14-25, 25-21, 25-15 comeback win.
From a single-digit record in the first game, veterans Maddie Madayag and team captain Bea De Leon had a stellar performance with 17 and 13 points, respectively, helping out Kat Tolentino, who finished off with 11 points. Ponggay Gaston, who only registered a single point in the first match, had nine last Wednesday.
These veterans have to play their cards consistently and show more character in the last match on Saturday if they want to win the championship title.
In addition, rookies Vanessa Gandler and Jaja Maraguinot, hopefully step out from their seniors’ shadows and give their all in the last game to help in their chances of winning.
What to expect
Though their competitors UST Golden Tigresses, hold the top spot in the spiking division with a total of 31.06 percent thanks to Most Valuable Player Sisi Rondina and Rookie of the Year Eya Laure, Ateneo is trailing close at second with a 27.93 percent.
Ateneo also holds first place in blocking with 2.55 average of blocks per set, with UST at sixth place with only 1.79 blocks per set. However, Ateneo must not rest on their laurels because the Golden Tigresses proved to surprise their competitors time and again, matching the Lady Eagles with 40 total number of blocks in Game 1.
More than statistics, the question lies whether Ateneo can finish the game relying on a ‘heart strong’ or will they fail to fly high and succumb to the Tigresses?
There’s only one thing for sure, as Madayag said after their last game, “Lalaban talaga kami, we won’t go down without a fight.”
‘One Big Fight’ it is.
Follow the writer on Twitter: @meanxi