Ateneo coach Almadro heaps praises on graduating UE cast

MANILA, Philippines – After Ateneo drubbed UE in the final day of UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball eliminations, cameras zoomed in on Lady Eagles head coach Oliver Almadro giving a pep talk to the fallen Lady Warriors.

And the praises were definitely well-deserved, as the 6 graduating UE players led by Kath Arado and Judith Abil made Ateneo work hard for their first two sets.

Abil fired off 11 points off attacks with 13 receptions while Arado – bad leg and all – went down swinging with 28 digs and 12 receptions.

As such, Almadro took more time praising their opposition even though his team clinched the 1st seed for the fourth time in 5 years.

"I've been telling my players that we have to respect their players," he said after the game.

"[Lai] Bendong is a most likely candidate for the Best Setter. Kat Arado is a candidate for Best Digger and Best Receiver. Abil is No. 5 in scoring. [Mary Ann] Mendrez is No. 7 in scoring."

"They are in the top spot individually. The coaching staff are doing very well with the team, and I told them they pushed us forward, they really pushed us."

Along with Arado, Abil, and Bendong, Selle Baliton, Jana Sta Maria, and Jas Alcayde also suited up for the final time in the red and white.

"Of course, hindi UE lang 'yan. UE 'yan," he continued. "Nandiyan si ganito, ganiyan, so we have to really push ourselves forward. 'Yun ang sinabi ko sa kanila. They're equally as good as FEU, UST, lahat kami equal."

(Of course, it's not just UE. That's UE. They have certain people, so we have to really push ourselves forward. That's what I said to my players. They're equally as good as FEU, UST, we're all equal.)

"It's just the breaks of the game na 'di nila nakuha. Na-appreciate ko din si Judith, si Kath, si Bendong, 'yung ginawa nila sa team nila, we really appreciate it kasi napush nila kami forward."

(It's just the breaks of the game that they didn't get. I also appreciate Judith, Kath, and Bendong, what they've done for their team. We really appreciate it because they pushed us forward.)

Even though UE was still far from contending status after a seventh-place finish in Season 81, the Lady Warriors squad went down swinging, which clearly gained the respect of fans and foes alike. –