MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles' steady march to the UAAP Season 81 Final 4 continued on Wednesday, when they dismissed Far Eastern University (FEU) in straight sets to roll to their ninth win in a row.
The Lady Eagles needed just an hour and 20 minutes to book a 25-21, 25-10, 25-18 triumph – a far cry from their first-round meeting against the Lady Tamaraws that saw them rally from a two-set deficit to claim the win in five sets.
With the victory, Ateneo improved to 9-1 in the women's volleyball tournament. They have not lost since bowing to De La Salle University in their season-opener, and are already assured of at least a playoff for a spot in the Final 4.
"I'm happy na 'yung mga players ko, they responded to the challenge," said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro, who had anticipated a tough stand from FEU as they were playing sans injured rookie Lycha Ebon.
"Instinct sa (FEU) ang fighter, because of their winning tradition. We had to level up our intensity and energy," he explained.
While Almadro was, of course, delighted to have racked up another win, he also insisted that the Lady Eagles are not dwelling on their winning streak – or how close they are to the Final 4.
"Lagi kong sinasabi na we're not counting wins, we're not counting teams," said Almadro, who is in his first season as the Lady Eagles' head coach after a five-year stint with their men's team.
With nothing set in stone as far as their ranking goes, the Lady Eagles have no time to celebrate.
"We just have to prepare every day," said the coach. "Be better than our best in every practice, be better than our best every day. So we just have to aim high."
"We have to aim at what's about to take place. That's our mindset," Almadro stressed. "We'll count the games, we count the practices, and we'll always be prepared."
The Lady Eagles see constant improvement in their team, but at the same time, they are not worried about peaking too early.
"I think Coach O… has everything planned out," said Ateneo ace Kat Tolentino, who had 11 points in their win over FEU.
"He knows his stuff with everything, with our conditioning. I'm not concerned about that, we're just looking at each game at a time," she stressed.
The Lady Eagles play again on Sunday, against National University.
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