PVL: Disbelieving fans stunned by Ateneo’s hot performance
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 26, 2018 08:13 PM
Rookie Vanessa Gandler (#5) of Ateneo-Motolite celebrates her own point with an exuberant smile while slapping hands with Kat Tolentino. Looking on is libero Dani Ravena of the celebrated Ravena family. Gandler went on to finish with nine points in the Lady Blue Eagles’ four-set win over the Pocari-Air Force Lady Warriors last Sunday.
That was how Norma ‘Kute’ Sosa, 55 years old of Quezon City, a loyal fan of the Premier Volleyball League and the V League series before that, described Ateneo-Motolite’s monster performance Sunday in the Lady Blue Eagles’ debut in the PVL Season 2 Open Conference.
Supporters of the other schools were seen also applauding the highly-revitalized Lady Eagles, who were generally unseen and unheard of after failing to make the UAAP Season 80 Finals.
Such raves as “Hanep,” “Hayop sa galing,” “Lagot na naman ang mga kalaban” freely flowed from their mouths in describing Ateneo’s quick return to battle form.
The Lady Eagles showed up at the Imus Sports Complex in Imus City, Cavite, for their first major tournament in months with five rookies and soared to a convincing first-match win behind a display of explosive net attacks, solid blocking and tight floor defense.
No less than Kat Tolentino typified Ateneo’s return to championship form. She’s jumping higher this time around and fiercer in her attacks even from the back row. She tallied 13 spikes and four of her team’s 12 blocks on the way to a 19-point romp over the gallantly-fighting Lady Warriors.
Team captain Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag were never more dangerous in the middle than last Sunday, only the second playing day of the PVL’s season-ending Third Conference staged in an out-of-town venue.
Another revelation was Jaja Maraguinot, younger sister of former Ateneo open spiker Jo Maraguinot. She proved to be a very capable alternate of first setter Deana Wong, acknowledged the Lady Eagles’ first-year coach Oliver Almadro.
Of the four rookies who got playing time, Fil-Austrian Vanessa Gandler proved to be the most promising with her contribution of nine points.
Gandler, Fil-Canadian Isabela Peralta and Erika Raagas of Cagayan de Oro, according to Ateneo volleyball program head Sherwin Malonzo, were recruited from La Salle-Zobel.
“All three attended the training camp I organized two years ago, they joined Ateneo immediately after graduating from Grade XII,” revealed Malonzo.
Malonzo also discovered Fil-Am Samantha Fanger of California thru the Internet.
Through referral, Malonzo got Jaycell Ann delos Reyes, the fifth newbie on his team, from the high school department of National University.
Indeed, the future looks bright for the Lady Eagles.