MANILA - After an up-and-down start to UAAP Season 81, Ateneo setter Deanna Wong has steadily grown in confidence, becoming more and more consistent as the tournament progresses.
The reigning UAAP Best Setter turned in an impressive performance on Wednesday, guiding the Lady Eagles to a straightforward 25-21, 25-10, 25-18 triumph over Far Eastern University. She was credited with 30 excellent sets, and added four points as Ateneo secured its ninth straight win.
For her efforts, Wong earned Player of the Game honors. Afterward, however, the fourth-year player stressed that credit goes to her teammates as well.
"It's not in my head how many excellent sets I get," said Wong, who entered the match norming 5.86 excellent sets per set, good for third in the league.
"For the team, it's the win talaga," she said. "Mag-try, kahit anong receive or dig na mapunta sa akin, para ma-set sa players. As Coach O (Oliver Almadro) says, get to the ball all the time, and I'll always be there for the team."
"What I have na excellent sets, it's because of my spikers," she stressed.
With Wong orchestrating the offense, the Lady Eagles put up 35 kills against FEU. It was a balanced effort for Ateneo: Kat Tolentino and Ponggay Gaston each scored 11 points, while Maddie Madayag and Bea de Leon contributed 7 points each.
Afterward, Tolentino lauded their setter for her ball distribution all throughout the game, which kept the FEU net defense guessing.
"It was a great team effort, and I really saw how Deanna really distributed the ball well," said Tolentino, the team's leading scorer. "That's really how our team should play, and that's how we win."
Their win over FEU put the Lady Eagles on the brink of a Final 4 spot for the tenth season in a row. Another win over National University on Sunday will clinch a spot for Ateneo.
For Wong, what's crucial for the Lady Eagles now is to stick to what has been working for them -- and that is to play as a team.
"I think in time, we're all improving. It's not just me; it's the team naman, and it's a team effort talaga," said Wong. "You can see how well we're becoming as a team, with the teamwork and the jelling of each and everyone."
"As long as we stick together naman, we'll always challenge ourselves," she said.
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