MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo de Manila University continues to roll in the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament, with the Lady Eagles racking up their eighth consecutive victory last Saturday.
A straight sets triumph over University of the Philippines (UP) in the Battle of Katipunan gave Ateneo an 8-1 win-loss record in the elimination round. They have not dropped a game since losing to De La Salle University in their first assignment of the season.
Yet even as they continue their march to the Final 4, the Lady Eagles stressed that they cannot afford to let up.
"Coach always reminds us not to think of our standings," said Maddie Madayag, who scored 10 points in Ateneo's 25-23, 25-16, 25-23 win over UP. "He always says, You're only as good as your last game."
"So, whatever happens, the next game wala na iyon," she added. "Kalimutan na natin 'yung nangyari this game, so you always have to be better than your best."
After laboring to a slim victory in the opening set, the Lady Eagles cruised to victory in the second frame after an unfortunate injury to UP star Isa Molde. But they found themselves in a war in Set 3, with the Lady Maroons putting up a brave stand without their second-leading scorer.
Ateneo's firepower proved to be too much, however, and a clutch hit by Jules Samonte ended the game in an hour and 35 minutes.
Still, their struggles against UP showed Ateneo that they have plenty to work on.
"I think we got lucky," admitted team captain Bea de Leon, who had 9 points. "Kung titignan talaga, I think we gave up a lot of errors, and it was really on us."
"There was so much to work on. It's the second round na, and we shouldn't be allowing those errors," she added.
"We really have a lot to work on," agreed Madayag, who took note of their service errors in the first set that allowed UP to stay within striking distance.
The veteran middle blocker felt that the Lady Eagles may have been a tad overexcited in the first set, and that led them to commit uncharacteristic errors not just on their serve but even in their attacks.
"You can see the frustration in everyone – why can't I do my job properly?" said Madayag. "Dahan-dahan na parang nag-build up, and I guess consistency lang talaga."
The Lady Eagles will try to stretch their winning streak to nine games on Wednesday, when they take on an undermanned Far Eastern University team. The Lady Tamaraws will be playing without rookie ace Lycha Ebon, who is out for at least 3 weeks with a knee injury.
Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro warned that the Lady Eagles cannot take the Lady Tams lightly, even if they are missing their top scorer.
"We really have to respect them," he stressed. "We will be preparing, we will be practicing, and we will be showing our character also."
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