UAAP VOLLEYBALL: Heartstrong mantra alive in Ateneo's comeback win

Mark Escarlote on Feb 11, 2018 07:27 PM
Heartstrong mantra alive in Ateneo's comeback win
I think we went back to coach Tai’s (Bundit) mantra of happy, happy and heart strong -- Ateneo middle blocker Bea De Leon

Ateneo de Manila University went back to the same formula that brought the Lady Eagles success during the Alyssa Valdez era.

“I think we went back to coach Tai’s (Bundit) mantra of happy, happy and heart strong,” said Ateneo middle blocker Bea De Leon. “He said that everything we do we have to do it happy, we have to do it together and we can’t give up.”

It was just what the Lady Eagles to stop a two-game bleeding – the team’s worst start in 11 years.

Down by a set to open the match and by five points midway in the third and fourth frames, Ateneo showed the same character and heart that fueled them in their back-to-back titles three years ago to overcome University of Sto. Tomas, 16-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-23, Sunday in 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

The Lady Eagles captured their first win of the season after three games to tie the Tigresses in a start that equaled Ateneo’s 1-2 record back in Season 69.

The rebuilding Ateneo squad, which lost setter Jia Morado, Michelle Morente (transfered), Kim Gequillana (injured), Jamie Lavitoria (academics) and Ana Gopico (injured) after last season, started on the wrong foot after back-to-back five-set losses to Far Eastern University and National University.

“It’s been hard. I think obviously regardless of your attitude it’s really hard to lose,” said De Leon, who finished with 11 points including the game-clinching off the block kill. “But like I said we just have to learn to keep on lifting each other up.”

Thing didn’t go well for Ateneo at the start of its duel against the Tigresses.

With hard-spiking Sisi Rondina heating up early, the Lady Eagles again saw themselves trailing in the match.

But a morale-boosting win in the second set was enough to spark Ateneo’s comeback. 

The Lady Eagles turned the tables around in the third set when Ateneo overhauled a 14-19 deficit with a scorching 7-1 rally to take control, 21-20. UST regained the lead, 22-21, on an error by Lady Eagles rookie libero Dani Ravena, but the Tigresses crumbled under pressure committing three straight attack errors from Shanen Palec, Fil-Italian Milena Alessandrini and Rondina before Jules Samonte sealed the set with an off the block kill for Ateneo.   

The Lady Eagles erased a 12-17 deficit in the fourth set with a blistering run to take a 24-21 lead. Rondina tried to will UST back as the Tigresses saved two straight match points but De Leon completed the comeback with an off the block kill to slot their first win. 

“It’s really really important because obviously if we didn’t, it would’ve been 0-3. It would’ve been the bottom but now as we said, we’re at par with a lot of the teams - actually with UST - so it’s really, really good for us,” she said. “And it’s finally a start for us.”   

 

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