WHAT IF… Maddie Madayag finished UAAP Season 78
Mark Escarlote on Jul 22, 2020 11:46 AM
(Photo: Arvin Lim)
In 2016, sophomore middle blocker Maddie Madayag showed a glimpse of what she can bring to the table as part of the starting line-up.
It was in that year that Ateneo de Manila University looked poised for a three-peat in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament.
The Lady Eagles were coming off a perfect season the year before.
Ateneo’s superstar Alyssa Valdez on her swan song was looking for a fitting royal exit. She and two of her teammates Jia Morado and sophomore Bea De Leon were riding the crest of their stints with the national team months before.
Yes, Michelle Morente sat out that season because of academic problems while libero Denden Lazaro and Ella De Jesus had exhausted their playing years but even without them Ateneo remained a team to be reckoned with.
Add to that the emergence of Madayag, the Lady Eagles had all the pieces to grab a historic three-peat for the Katipunan-based squad.
Madayag stepped out of the shadows of De Leon, who on her first year was a vital cog for the season-sweeping Lady Eagles, by providing consistent production as a starter and one of Ateneo’s main man at the net alongside De Leon.
She already cemented her name as the Lady Eagles’ muscle at the net and her presence gave Ateneo faithful all the reasons to believe that the team can extend its dynasty for another year.
But the injury bug bit Madayag hard.
She tore her right anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the Lady Eagles’ training for their 11th game of the season against University of Sto. Tomas.
Although one woman down, Ateneo advanced to the Finals against archrival De La Salle University and even stretched the series to a Game 3.
However, the Lady Eagles sorely missed the presence of Madayag that could’ve been a great help defensively especially in the deciding game.
But what if Madayag didn’t hurt her knee that year and finished the season?
Would her presence change the outcome of Ateneo’s campaign?
“I guess,” Madayag said when asked about one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ of that season during her appearance in Volleyball DNA hosted by Anton Roxas and Denden Lazaro.
The national team member had an impressive showing in Season 78 averaging 7.3 points per game and almost one kill block per set during the 10 games she played. She was also no. 1 in the service department.
The Lady Eagles were on top of the standings with an 8-2 win-loss record before Madayag’s season came to an abrupt end.
“Siguro knowing what I can put to the table, knowing what I can give to the team siguro it would have made the difference,” said Madayag.
Her presence would’ve given Ateneo the boost it needed on net defense, at least for slowing down the ball for transition considering that the Lady Eagles struggled with their floor defense after the departure of Lazaro and De Jesus.
Madayag could’ve also given Ateneo an equal ground in the battle of middles against DLSU’s Mika Reyes and Majoy Baron. She could’ve also posed as a scoring threat and helped ease the burden from the back of Valdez in providing points.
She could’ve done more.
“It was really hard lang din. Grabe rin ang iyak ko nung natalo kami kasi ‘yun nga ‘yung mga what ifs,” said Madayag.
“It’s really hard not to think about it especially nandoon ka lang nakikita mo ang team mo sobrang nahihirapan,” she added. “Nandoon lang ako sa side naka-immobilizer pa ako di ako makagalaw. This is so sad I wish I could’ve done something.”
It was a difficult chapter in Madayag’s collegiate career. But it also ignited the fire in her to seek redemption.
Which she did when she ended her career in 2019 as a champion, three years after her saddling on the sidelines thinking about the ‘what ifs’.
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