No pressure -- Bea De Leon on post-Valdez Lady Eagles

Mark Escarlote on Feb 02, 2017 07:17 PM
No pressure -- Bea De Leon on post-Valdez Lady Eagles
I think a lot of people (ask kung saan kami kukuha ng offense). Kasi even us before, the spikers, we'd expect to go to Ate Aly, so now, even us, we don't know. But ‘yun, it changes the flow kasi nga the stats are spread out na -- Bea De Leon

Incoming third year Bea De Leon knows she needs to step up big this season being one of the veterans tasked to fill former Ateneo de Manila Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez’s shoes.

But while most volleyball pundits think that Lady Eagles’ seasoned holdovers will have tremendous pressure on their shoulders to reclaim lost glory when the UAAP Season 79 opens Saturday, De Leon believes that the challenge will actually be easier to hurdle as they are now playing as a team.

She thinks that they are now an even more dangerous team.      

“Yeah, definitely, we can look at it in that sense and that's gonna make us a better team,” she said looking to help Ateneo avenge its Finals loss to archrival De La Salle University. “Hopefully na lang talaga, it's gonna be put on a better light.”

De Leon said that the departure of the former three-time UAAP MVP and their leader that brought them to the throne in Season 76 and 77 opened up a chance for them to explore and showcase their own skills. 

“I think a lot of people (ask kung saan kami kukuha ng offense). Kasi even us before, the spikers, we'd expect to go to Ate Aly, so now, even us, we don't know,” she said with an air of confidence and calm proving that the Lady Eagles can spread their wing even in the post-Alyssa Valdez era. “But ‘yun, it changes the flow kasi nga the stats are spread out na.”

She said that even with Valdez, Amy Ahomiro and Mae Tajima exhausting all their playing years, setter Jia Morado still has a lot of options on offense with Jho Maraguinot, Kim Gequillana and newcomers Jules Samonte and Kat Tolentino. Michelle Morente returns after skipping last season because of academic problems, while Maddie Madayag and Ana Gopico will again see action after recovering from their knee injuries.         

“Actually, diskarte ni Jia (Morado) kung kanino pupunta (ang bola), tapos bahala na lang kung sa'yo mapunta,” said De Leon, who added that they are not letting pressure get into their heads. “No, no, no. No pressure. Like I said, it's (offense) spread out, very equal siya. So pantay-pantay kami.”

Ateneo had a chance to show that they are still one of the top title contenders, making a good run in the V-League Collegiate League for a runner up finish against National University.

“Oh it was really good (experience for us). Even for us, definitely, we didn't think we'd get there (in the Finals). At the start of the V-League, we didn't even think we'd go to the next round,” she said. “So, definitely it was a moral victory for us. Definitely (unexpected). Definitely, it was good for us kasi post-Ate Ly, we didn't think we'd be able to do such things, so that's good for our confidence also, that we know that we can go far.”

To further polish and jell the team for the coming UAAP wars, the Katipunan-based squad trained in Thailand and Japan.

“It was a really good experience because all the teams we played were really good, so good experience for us to jell,” said De Leon. “More on scrimmages because we go there for the experience because the teams that are there are very competitive so we really go there for the experience, to jell as a team and to work together on-court mismo.” 

On a personal note, De Leon assessed that their stints abroad helped her improve her game at the middle.

“Oo naman (may improvement). Definitely, not even for personal goal, but more just to really help my team out, because that would be really great for defense and for points, actually,” said De Leon. “So definitely, 'yun, I'd really like to improve on that because it's really gonna help the team a lot.”

De Leon last season had an average of 7.21 points per game and 0.54 kill blocks per set.

De Leon and Ateneo get an early litmus test on Saturday against University of Sto. Tomas at the Big Dome.

Catch the UAAP Season 79 women's volleyball tournament starting February 4, Saturday live on S+A, S+A HD channel 166 and via livestream.

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