Ateneo Lady Eagles prove bashers wrong in reaching Final 4
MANILA, Philippines – Being the only team that did not stop training the entire Holy Week break, the Ateneo Lady Eagles' sacrifices paid off as they rallied back from University of Santo Tomas' (UST) two-set advantage on Wednesday, April 4, to clinch a Final 4 spot in the UAAP Season 80 Women's Volleyball tournament.
The Tigresses were fueled to put a halt to Ateneo's winning streak to keep their Final 4 hopes alive. They capitalized on Ateneo's errors until Kat Tolentino turned the match around in the 4th set with back-to-back attacks to give the Lady Eagles a two-point cushion, 14-12.
UST collapsed with 10 unforced errors in the 4th set that sent the match to a decider and Tolentino's heroics closed out the game for Ateneo.
Although the Lady Eagles already clinched their post-season berth with their victory over Adamson, they were determined to keep the momentum to prove that they deserve the Final 4 spot.
"It's not naman na we don't have anything to lose. But then we're there, so we should just play happy kasi 'yun na, andoon na kami [Final 4]," said Ateneo captain Maddie Madayag.
(It's not that we dont' have anything to lose. But then we're there, so we should just play happy because that's it, we're already there [Final 4].)
Only in her second playing year, Tolentino's 21-point production greatly helped the Lady Eagles make it to their 8th Final 4 appearance. Ateneo's hero of the day is as speechless as her captain in defying odds to reach this feat.
"Speechless also. We really trusted our training and in our teammates, and seeing it show on the court is such a blessing. We're just super happy and excited to have this opportunity again," said Tolentino.
The Lady Eagles recalled that at the beginning of the season, many doubted that the reigning UAAP finalists would even make it to the Final 4 due to the loss of key players Michelle Morente and Jia Morado.
Madayag reasserted the Lady Eagles' hunger this Season 80 in words that they are out there to prove those doubters wrong.
"We don't really play for other people, we play for our school, we play for ourselves. So, it's not... parang okay, we proved them wrong. Sorry sa inyo kasi you doubted us. I guess 'yun na lang, watch us this season na lang and look how we play," said Madayag
(We don't really play for other people, we play for ourselves. So it's not... like okay, we proved them wrong. Sorry to you guys because you doubted us. I guess that's it, watch us this season and look how we play.)
"We were taught not to mind (the doubters). Kasi maraming mga bashers, mga doubters, mga ganyan. What will happen if you mind them? 'Di ba wala naman (Because there are many bashers, doubters, those kinds of people. What wil happen if you mind them? None right?)."
Tolentino added that the Lady Eagles were able to endure and ignore the negative predictions about them because of how close the team is and how much they trusted each other. For Tolentino, nothing is going to stop the Lady Eagles in aiming for the twice-to-beat advantage.
"I think just with this team, we're super close and we really trust in each other, and it's okay if others maybe doubt us, but as long as we believe in each other, and as long as we believe in Coach Tai, and the system, there's no stopping us," said Tolentino
The Lady Eagles are looking to go undefeated this second round as they will face the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons on Saturday, April 7, at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com