No more jitters: Ateneo vies to get even vs La Salle
MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Lady Eagles may be determined to get even with defending champion La Salle – which dealt them their first and only loss of the season – but they know that by now, they should have shaken off the jitters against the defending champion.
"Hopefully this time, we won't be so overwhelmed," said Ateneo captain Bea de Leon, who admitted that emotions got the better of her early in the season of the UAAP women's volleyball tournament. (READ: Ateneo's Bea de Leon overcomes leadership struggles)
The last 3 matches between the league's fiercest rivals – including Ateneo's lone loss of the season last February – have been lopsided in favor of three-peat champion La Salle.
Although Ateneo may hold momentum after streaking to 10 straight wins to nail the firs Final Four berth, the Lady Eagles know they still need to have the proper mindset. (READ: Ateneo has no plans to relax despite clinching Final Four berth)
"We're in the Final Four. So it's a preparation for a bigger thing. We have to have the right motivation. It's not just because it's 'La Salle, I wanna beat them so bad.' It can't be like that," said De Leon.
"You always have to have the right motivations and the right intentions, which is to always continue to improve with the team and grow together."
Ateneo solidified its hold of the top spot as La Salle suffered major blows midway through its four-peat campaign – getting swept by University of the Philippines and absorbing a shock loss from University of Santo Tomas.
The Katipunan-based squad, too, is now looking like a team that has a chance to win over the Lady Spikers with improved floor defense and a more confident frontline composed of Maddie Madayag, Kat Tolentino and Bea de Leon – the league's top 3 blockers.
"We're very very proud of what we've accomplished, that's for sure, because all these years, we never really focus on the blocks. It wasn't a bad thing, but it just wasn't the system. But with this new system of Coach O (Oliver Almadro), we're just happy that we're able to deliver with our jobs, because that's what he wants to see," said De Leon.
Ateneo and La Salle face off on Saturday, April 13, 4 pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (LIVE UPDATES: Ateneo vs La Salle – UAAP Season 81 round 2) – Rappler.com