They can make it work --- Lazaro on ADMU's three-peat bid
Mark Escarlote on Dec 30, 2015 04:54 PM
Former Ateneo de Manila libero Denden Lazaro believes that the Lady Eagles' heart strong mantra will pull them through in their three-peat bid.
Former Ateneo De Manila libero Denden Lazaro has strong faith in the Lady Eagles' second title defense even with the departure of some key players that kept the UAAP title perched in Katipunan last year.
The 23-year-old Lazaro together with Ella De Jesus and Aerieal Patnongon helped the Lady Eagles rule Season 77 in a sweeping fashion for the school’s second straight crown in their final playing tour of duty wearing blue.
Aside from the trio, hitter Michelle Morente will be skipping this year’s competition because of academic problems putting added pressure on graduating back-to-back Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez.
But Lazaro believes that the heart strong mantra instilled by Thai coach Tai Bundit will pull them through.
She added that the team is no stranger in this kind of situation citing the Lady Eagles' challenge back in Season 76 when the likes of Jem Ferrer, Fille Cainglet, Gretchen Ho and Dzi Gervacio graduated the year before and with the adjustments under the system of Bundit, who replaced Roger Gorayeb’s post.
“I think naman (pareho lang) when nu’ng sina Ate Fille left, ‘yun ang core team namin during that time. And then when they left and coach Roger left, it was a struggle for us but somehow we made it work,” Lazaro, who is now busy with her studies in med school and has not played competitive indoor volleyball since her Singapore Southeast Asian Games stint last June, told ABS-CBN Sports.
Even with a rebuilding team, the Lady Eagles pulled off probably the biggest upset in league history after overcoming the then three-time champion De La Salle Lady Spikers’ thrice-to-beat advantage in the championship round two years ago for Ateneo’s breakthrough title.
“Through time naman and sa training ni coach Tai we made it work,” Lazaro continued.
This coming Season 78, which will open on January, just mirrored the situation they were in back in 2013. And with the team fully gelled with Amy Ahomiro, Bea De Leon and setter Jia Morado taking the role as support for Valdez, the team is all good.
“I think same lang rin now na nawala 'yung most of the seniors of the team. I think makakayanan naman nilang mag-adjust this time with coach Tai’s training,” she said. “Maganda naman 'yung pakikisama ng team with each other.”
Lazaro said that looking at the composition of other teams, Ateneo could be facing an uphill battle to protect their crown. But this will make winning games even sweeter.
“Every season naman I think is a struggle. Kasi kahit sabihin mong you come in to the season with the same team ‘di mo pa rin mage-gauge how the other teams will do e,” she said. “Pero ‘yun ang challenge na dapat nilang ma-overcome. Iba ang pakiramdam kapag nagawa mong ma-overcome ang challenge."
According to Lazaro, the first few games will be crucial for Ateneo’s campaign.
“Hindi mo naman sila (other teams) nakikitang mag-training,” said Lazaro. “Makikita mo na lang how well you’re gonna do during the tournament. Makikita mo lang doon how the other teams will play, how you’re gonna adjust your team, how you’ll gonna adjust yourself.”
She pointed out that La Salle, which Ateneo beat in two straight championship series after losing their first two titular showdowns in Season 74 and 75, will always be there.
“For sure La Salle, they have the same lineup and knowing ‘yung championship history nila and siyempre y'ung pride ng school nila, babawi at babawi ‘yun to get back the title,” said Lazaro. “But we also can’t count out the other teams, kasi nagbi-build up rin sila during the offseason.”
“UP I’ve seen them play in the V-League. They are doing better now with coach Jerry (Yee) and 'yung mga bagong players nila magagaling. That’s a team to look out for also,” she added. “Actually, all the other teams you’re gonna expect them to do better this year.”
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