Past Ateneo volleybelles apart from Alyssa Valdez we’ve come to love
A look back at why we admired these Lady Eagles, and a look at where are they now. (Photo taken from Ferrer's Instagram: @jemferrer)
We thought the Philippines just revolved around men’s basketball. And we, the media, kind of blame ourselves for that. What, it used to be the only sport that brought in the stuff that kept the business oiled! The papers and television needed that kind of fandom to literally live, and then bring you more the next year. To prove their popularity, basketball players moonlighted as actors and models—and boy they were as effective and gushed over as such as they were back on the court!
Within the last few years, however, we’ve seen another sport grow in leaps that it became as popular as basketball. Nope, not football. (Although, considerably, it has risen, too, big thanks to the good-looking Azkals who catapulted to star status after qualifying to the 2010 AFF Suzuki Cup in 2011.) We are again talking about volleyball—women’s volleyball, in particular. Never has it been this huge, that we now have the V-League, Spiker’s Turf, PSL, BVR, and even NCAA volleyball thriving in success.
Many are crediting this to the Ateneo-La Salle rivalry, one that used to be about the BJ Manalo’s and the Wesley Gonzales’s. While many players from both women’s squads have their own huge fan bases, much more are giving it to former Ateneo Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez—arguably the biggest volleyball star yet. The humble superstar, however, would agree with us that the following ladies also deserve the same credit. As we head to another Ateneo-La Salle match tomorrow, here’s a #throwback tribute to the ladies who brought the Lady Eagles' name to glory.
We knew she’d return, and it took a year of waiting before she slipped back into a volleyball jersey again. Lazaro had taken a break from med school after finding herself in a career crossroad. In many interviews, she has become honest about how draining and different life came to be after graduating from the collegiate ranks. The two-time champ missed her being an athlete, hence the return. Next to being a player in the semipros, Lazaro is also into sportscasting now as an analyst and a host on Down The Line.
Ella de Jesus
De Jesus received the nickname “Ellavator” for her soaring spikes and jumps that feared no towering Dindin or Jaja Santiago during their matches. While we see her out and about traveling, still supporting the Lady Eagles in games, and living the online influencer life, she is now being tapped to rejoin the PLDT Ultra-fast Hitters. The team left the V-League for a year and is raring to join anew, with Coach Roger Gorayeb (who scouted De Jesus back as a Saint James Academy player) in charge.
Ahomiro, then a much-improved collegiate player that she was crowned Finals MVP in Ateneo’s Seasn 77 championship finish, now plays for BaliPure. Like batchmates de Jesus, Lazaro, and Valdez, this New Zealander has evolved into an online influencer and brand ambassador. She also puts her good looks and sports knowledge to use now as a volleyball analyst on ABS-CBN S+A.
Part of the Fab Five class of 2008, Cainglet had grown a massive following as a student-athlete then. It’s also thanks to her on-court skills that only grew to become useful as she helped Ateneo land two finals appearances (Season 74-75). (She went on to snatch the Shakey’s V-League Season 8 First Conference Most Improved Player award in 2011.) It’s also maybe that she has always been interesting a sports personality, too. Back in the UAAP, for example, she had another sister who played volleyball for UP. Now Cainglet's married to Lino Cayetano, a former UP volleyball player as well. The mother of two still plays competitively, and has just signed with Pocari Sweat.
Ho is now a regular personality on Umagang Kay Ganda and TV Patrol, and keeps busy with her other hosting sidelines. An ICAn who made it to the Fab Five of 2008, the budding broadcast journalist and host may look like she completely separated from volleyball. Truth is, of course, she went behind the scenes by founding BVR. She almost always features athletes on any of her shows, maybe the athlete's her way to promote and push for sports growth in the country from another angle.
Judging from her Instagram posts documenting frequent team reunions and TBT photos, Ferrer seems to be the one who misses her teammates the most. She has the right reasons to be nostalgic--she was a former Fab Five class of 2008 member, and a three-time UAAP Best Setter who was also awarded with five more of the same in the SVL. Ferrer then played with PLDT before transferring to BaliPure. She now keeps busy with her corporate job at the PLDT Service Operations department, and even has de Jesus as her officemate.
As a heavily followed personality on Twitter and Instagram today, Nacachi also brought with her the fame she earned as part of the Fab Five of 2008. She also keeps a personal, rather “cathartic” journal online. She now works as a mobilization associate for a BPO, never failing to update her Instagram with her rendezvouses with friends, former teammates, workmates, and her travels!
Gervacio still spices up any indoor volley game as an attacker for BaliPure. Beach volleyball is another story. Among the BVR founders, she seems to be one of the most active in bringing and kickstarting the program to the countryside. Just take a look at her many (sexy) beach and travel photos on her Instagram, in between those of her and her beau, fellow Ateneo volleyball product Jeriel Apelar!
Meet Jeroma and Joshua Nelmida. They were both born without corneas. But being blind did not stop these twins from pursuing their passion of becoming triathletes. Their mom and dad support them all the way (hello, Tita Annette). Now, they join races all over the Philippines and even the world. Their hardwork, perseverance, unwavering optimism, and #heartstrong attitude gave them silver and gold medals in several races already. Cheers, you two! Thanks for watching our games and supporting the sport of volleyball. Can't wait to watch your next race. 💙 #PusongPalaban
Many of the aforementioned Lady Eagles take their hats off to the one and only Charo Soriano. The bond there is transcends generations, bringing the more senior Ateneo star and the younger ones to deeper connections and far-off destinations (go through the former teammates' travels together on her IG!). Her way with words and inspirational aura as a coach are what shot the Lady Eagles to their first V-League win back in 2011. While she’s taken on a playing coach stint with BaliPure, Soriano, now 31, has her eyes set on her business The Inspired Project and, of course, as the founder and spearhead of BVR. Apart from holding tournaments among players based in the city, BVR has always been grounded on a bigger cause. It’s also Soriano and the rest of the founders’ mission to cultivate more talents from the far-flung areas, with a vision of making beach volleyball a thing... and more.