Ateneo Lady Eagles' Dennise Lazaro shedding tears of joy after winning Game 3 of their finals series against the La Salle Lady Spikers. Ateneo eventually defeated La Salle in Game 4 on Saturday to take home their first UAAP women's volleyball crown. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA -- Ateneo libero Dennise Lazaro, fondly called Denden by her teammates, plays a thankless position as a defensive specialist but was showered with adoration after a brave performance for the Lady Eagles in the UAAP Season 76 women's volleyball finals.
Lazaro played the past three games nearly on one leg after twisting her left ankle in Game 2, while also dealing with other various injuries accumulated over a long season.
But that did not stop her from running, rolling all over the court and chasing the ball for the Lady Eagles. Her hard work and effort were rewarded as Ateneo clinched its first ever women's volleyball title Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena with a stunning three-set win over three-time defending champions La Salle.
"Sobrang overwhelming, sobrang fulfilling na umabot kami sa point na ito," said Lazaro. "Sa start ng season, mababa lang 'yung goal namin, mag Final Four. 'Yung hardwork talaga, nag pay off."
Lazaro was named Best Digger and Best Receiver of the season after having her best year ever in an Ateneo uniform.
"Un-glamorous position ang libero," Lazaro said after winning the championship. "Not much credit 'yung trabaho ko, but I have to do it. Inangkin ko na ang pagiging libero ko. Kailangan 'yun. I just worked hard talaga."
Lazaro revealed that on a scale of one to ten, the pain that she endured was an eight.
"'Yun nga kasi, Finals na ito eh. This is the last (game), do-or-die, all out na, bahala na," said Lazaro.
"Sa training namin, sobrang patayan. Iniisip ko na lang na sayang 'yung pinaghihirapan ng team," she added. "Lahat ng ginagawa ko, para sa team ko."
Playing through pain, Lazaro still got 15 excellent digs and 18 excellent receptions in Game 4.
"We kept our cool lang. Sabi ni Coach Tai (Bundit), 'Concentrate, meditate, know what you're doing,' and that's what we did. Hindi kami na-overwhelm sa crowd or sa game mismo," she said.
"Kung nagkakamali kami, bawi lang. Take it one point at a time."