For the second time the UAAP Season 81 Women's Volleyball tournament, the Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles found themselves down two sets.
And for the second time this season, the Lady Eagles clawed back to emerge victorious.
Wednesday afternoon against Univesity of Santo Tomas, the league-leading Lady Eagles dropped their the first two sets, 19-25 and then 22-25.
Ateneo needed a major effort from Maddie Madayag, who posted career-best marks of 23 points and a league-record 11 kill blocks to win the last three sets and survive an incredible 35-point outing from league-leading scorer Sisi Rondina to preserve their winning run.
"UST really came prepared today, that’s all I can say. But my players really fought well, and yung resiliency nila is really there. I really admire my players because of all the trust that they’re giving me. I just told them not to give up," said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro after the gritty win. "I really give this game to UST also, it just so happened na breaks of the game in the end, nag-favor talaga sa amin."
The Lady Eagles themselves will be the first to tell you that the win was, more than anything, a true display what they're made of.
"I think it was a good show of our character at the end that we were able to fight back and, and [I’m] just thankful for everything, for my teammates for finishing it at the end and really," said Kat Tolentino, who added 20 markers of her own. "It was a team effort and that was what got us that win and, again UST put up a good fight, but it’s really everyone contributing so much and I’m so thankful for this team because it was a great win."
Libero Dani Ravena, who came off the bench in the second set and finished the match with a team-high 20 excellent digs, added that once they won Set 3, they were not about to let the game out of their hands.
"Sabi nga ni Ate Kat, it’s a team effort talaga, you can all see all our emotions, nilabas namin lahat kanina kasi nandun na eh. Nung nakuha namin yung third set, sinabi na namin na ‘Guys, pinag-hirapan na natin ‘to, why let it go that easily?’ So as the sets came by, as each point came by, sinabi lang namin sa isa’t-isa na we have to fight for it, di namin papabayaan yung point na mabigay sa UST, and kudos to UST for really showing us na super lakas nila na team. It’s really a team effort and I’m really proud of the team."
For Madayag, it was all about hard work paying off in the end.
"Sobrang pinag-hirapan lang talaga namin, kasi I told my teammates na the Lord gave us a chance, so we should grab it. Nothing ever comes easy, so we really have to work hard for it, tsaka I reminded them na we can’t just say that we’ve been here, we have to work for it so yung ginawa namin before UST, wala na yun, kasi you’re only as good as your last game, as what Coach O says."
"Itong game na ‘to, for me, I guess we really showed our character talaga, na lalaban kami kung lalaban," she added.
The Lady Eagles remain at the top of the standings with a 7-1 slate to begin the second round of action.