LADY EAGLES: Fresh start
Mark Escarlote on Aug 30, 2017 02:48 PM
The Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles with Fil-Italian prospect (in red) Milena Alessandrini.
Ateneo de Manila University’s first step in rebuilding its old glory after the departure of its key pillars begins in the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference.
The Lady Eagles are looking for a fresh start after top setter Jia Morado decided to forego her last playing year right after Ateneo bowed down to archrival De La Salle University in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball Finals series followed by ace hitter Michelle Morente leaving the school months after.
Incoming fourth year player Bea De Leon embraces a new role as skipper of arguably the most popular team in the country today.
“Definitely, they expect me to be more of a vocal leader siguro on court,” said de Leon. (They expect me to be) a good leader and set a good example for my teammates.”
“Like what people have noticed, I’m very vocal,” said the middle blocker. “Hopefully maka-adjust ako sa bagong role ko.”
Even without Morado and Morente and two years since the school’s greatest volleyball product Alyssa Valdez graduated, Ateneo is still expected to soar and practice its “happy, happy” style of play and heartstrong mantra.
The Katipunan-based school remains to be one of the top title contenders despite missing some of its veterans.
The Lady Eagles in the previous two years finished runner-ups to National University in the now defunct V-League Collegiate Conference.
While most of the teams are looking at the tournament as a pre-season preparation, Ateneo’s goal is to win it all.
“Like any other team, our goal is to win the championship,” De Leon said. “We’ll just do our best every game.”
“It’s gonna take a lot of team effort (to win). It’s the hardest part to get everyone on the same mindsets,” she added. “But as long as we find a way to all have a common mindset and a common goal, I think we’ll gonna be fine.”
Making her debut for the Ateneo is Dani Ravena, sister of Blue Eagles basketball standouts Kiefer and Thirdy, playing the role as setter behind starting playmaker Deanna Wong.
“We have Dani now as our new setter,” an excited De Leon said. “Hopefully we’ll improve din naman and soon enough mas maging mas maganda pa (ang laro namin).”
Some key returnees for the blue and white are Kim Gequillana, Jho Maraguinot, Ana Gopico, Kat Tolentino, Jules Samonte, Ponggay Gaston and Maddie Madayag.
Ateneo is bracketed in Group A together with other UAAP teams National University and Far Eastern University and NCAA squads Lyceum of the Philippines University, Jose Rizal University and San Sebastian College.
The Lady Eagles open their campaign on Saturday against JRU at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
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