Lady Eagles keep it together despite injuries
Heartstrong, the word coined by coach Tai Bundit (sixth from right, back row), aptly describes the Ateneo Lady Blue Eagles now. Weighed down by a spate of injuries, they keep fighting back, thanks as well to the leadership of team captain Bea de Leon (third from left, back row).
Ana Gopico showed up in uniform in Ateneo’s first outing in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference, but couldn’t play yet due to injury sustained much earlier.
Then Madelaine Madayag sprained an ankle only to be followed in the injury list by Jhoana Maraguinot.
When Madayag and Maraguinot came back, Kim Gequillana crumpled down the floor with a torn left ACL.
Through this string of injuries, the Lady Eagles bravely forged ahead, largely because of their indomitable spirit and, in equal measure, the leadership of team captain Bea de Leon.
De Leon, who now commands a large following, always has a comforting word for a teammate who commits an error and praises for the team rookies who give a fair accounting of themselves in their few minutes on court.
Or a congratulatory pat or hug for one who scores a point.
Only Gequillana will be out of commission when the Lady Blue Eagles, sporting a 3-1 win-loss record, play the undefeated National University Lady Bulldogs (4-) Sept. 30 in a game they must win or they go bust.
A fourth victory for them would force a triple tie among themselves, the Lady Bulldogs and the Lady Tamaraws (3-1) assuming FEU wins their final assignment as well against lowly Lyceum of the Philippines University (1-3).
Playing without the indisposed Madayag and Gopinco and de Leon, who was away at the time in an immersion class in Nueva Ecija, Ateneo lost to FEU in four sets.
For a while there, not a few wondered if there’s something wrong with coach Tai’s program that his women keep injuring themselves during training or a game.
Sherwin Malonzo, head of Ateneo’s volleyball program, dismissed the insinuation, saying that a player is bound to get injured in a high-level competition such as the PVL and the UAAP.
“Injuries will be injuries and can’t be avoided,” he added.
The Ateneo Lady Blue Eagles lineup: Danielle Ravena, Ma. Deanna Isabella Wong, Juliane Marie Samonte, Bettina Andrea Paz Abella, Pauline Marie Monique Gaston, Katrina Mae Tolentino, Sydney Alexandrine Tolentino, Candice Gequillana, Jhoana Louisse Maraguinot, Isabel Beatriz de Leon, Ana Laureen Gopico, Janelle Marie Lo, Madelaine Yrenea Madayag, and Kassandra Miren Gequillana.
Anusorn Bundit, head coach; and Sherwin Meneses, assistant coach.