UAAP: Ateneo braces for tougher second round

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2019 07:08 PM

UAAP: Ateneo braces for tougher second round 1
The Ateneo Lady Eagles have won six games in a row. Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – The road ahead will only become more challenging for the Ateneo Lady Eagles after they ended the first round of the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament with a 6-1 win-loss record.

Since losing to defending champion La Salle in their first game, the Lady Eagles have reeled off six wins in a row – a streak highlighted by an impressive straight-sets triumph over University of the Philippines in the Battle of Katipunan.

A four-set victory over a gritty national University team last Saturday clinched Ateneo the top spot in the league standings after the first round, but head coach Oliver Almadro was quick to move on from that.

"First round was really tough for us," he said. "We really learned a lot from here, but I'm telling my players that going to the second round, it's going to be tougher."

La Salle had given Ateneo a rude welcome to the season as the defending champs flustered the Lady Eagles with their service game and limited their offense. But Ateneo followed up that loss with morale-boosting wins over University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University.

Veterans Maddie Madayag and Kat Tolentino have been superb, while skipper Bea de Leon has found her form after a slow start. Ateneo is also starting to get more production from Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte, both on offense and defense.

Almadro stressed that all of his players – from the starters to the reserves – will have to play even better in round 2 if they hope to sustain their standing.

"It won't be easy for us going to the second round so we really have to put more effort, to put more sacrifices, and to have bigger faith in the Lord na He will always give us strength, wisdom, power, and courage," said the coach.

Already, the Ateneo players are bracing for harder games, knowing that the other UAAP teams have already scouted them.

"Sabi ni coach, it's going to be about more on strategies," noted Madayag, who leads the league in blocks with 0.78 rejection per set. "You've played against every team, so alam mo na 'yung kilos nila."

"I guess marami pa kaming matutunan and marami pa kaming kailangang idagdag sa sarili namin. I'm not saying na magaling kami kasi hindi. Magaling lang talaga mag-gel 'yung team," she added.

De Leon added that the Lady Eagles need to work double time, while Tolentino stressed that they cannot lose track of what got them to the top spot in the first place – that is, their teamwork.

"We earned it by working together and by following the system," Tolentino said of their 6-game win streak. 

"We're going to have to continue that, but also adjust. Because the teams will only come out stronger," she pointed out.

Ateneo will be immediately challenged to open the second round as they take on University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan. 

Like the Lady Eagles, the Golden Tigresses are also on a roll, having now won three games in a row.

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