La Salle's Aby Marano cries after their loss to Ateneo in game 5 of the UAAP volleyball finals. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – The tears flowed freely from the eyes from De La Salle skipper Abigail Maraño as her UAAP career ended in heartbreaking fashion after the Lady Spikers were shockingly defeated by the rival Ateneo Lady Eagles in the Season 76 women’s volleyball finals.
Maraño, already a winner of three UAAP titles and two Most Valuable Player awards, was looking to cap a storied UAAP career with a fourth consecutive crown but that plan was spoiled by an Ateneo squad that completed a massive upset of La Salle Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Siguro po, it’s Ateneo’s year,” a tearful Maraño told ABS-CBN News as confetti continued to shower the Lady Eagles on the MOA Arena court. “We fought a good fight. I can’t say na hindi lumaban ‘yung team ko.”
The Lady Spikers held a thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals and were considered the massive favorites, having swept the elimination round as well as toting a stunning 30-game winning streak.
But they were ambushed by the Lady Eagles, who played with no expectations yet defeated La Salle in three of their four games behind their rallying cry of “heart strong.”
“Siguro may pagkukulang kami,” said Maraño. “May share kami lahat sa pagkukulang ng bawat isa. Siguro nag-doubt din kami.”
Maraño burst into tears after the last whistle blew, and was immediately surrounded by her teammates, many of whom were also crying. Back-up setter Mika Esperanza was heard on television assuring Maraño that the Lady Spikers will do their best to regain the UAAP crown next year.
Showing class and grace, Maraño led her teammates in congratulating the Lady Eagles, as well as Ateneo head coach Tai Bundit. She also shared a long hug with Ateneo libero Denden Lazaro, who later paid tribute to the La Salle captain.
“Sabi ko, ‘Nice game, Aby.’ She was just crying. Si Aby kasi, matagal ko na siyang kilala, since high school pa, and ever since, parang intense talaga siya mag-laro, and I admire her for that,” said Lazaro. “Sobrang love niya ‘yung ginagawa niya.”
Maraño was also loudly applauded by the La Salle crowd, who chanted her name in praise even after the loss. It was also Maraño who took the Lady Spikers’ trophy, even as she continued to cry on top of the podium.
She has already graduated from La Salle earlier this year, and plans to pursue a career in media.
Despite a heartbreaking end to the season, Maraño said she remains thankful for what has been a legendary career in a La Salle uniform.
“I really had blessed years with De La Salle,” she said. -- With a report from Dyan Castillejo, ABS-CBN News.