MANILA, Philippines—Though obviously disappointed at how her team's campaign ended, Ateneo middle blocker Bea de Leon was still proud of what the Lady Eagles achieved in the Season 80 women's volleyball tournament.
In rebuilding mode following the loss of veterans Jia Morado and Michelle Morente, the Lady Eagles made an unexpected run to the final 4 and finished as the No. 3 seed, before they bowed to Far Eastern University, 20-25, 21-25, 25-14, 19-25, to see their streak of six straight Finals appearances come to an end.
"Siyempre, we were very sad," said de Leon, who finished with seven points. "It's a tough loss, kasi 'di ba, all or nothing din? But I just kept telling the girls that we had nothing to prove."
"I think we did our best talaga and at least in a game like that talagang walang regrets, talagang nilaban namin unlike the past couple of games," she added.
For de Leon, the Lady Eagles overachieved in Season 80. The veteran acknowledged that she had doubts regarding their chances of making it to the semifinals, especially considering how they started their build-up to Season 80.
The Lady Eagles had endured a dramatic offseason that included the departure of head coach Tai Bundit, before he was reinstated by Ateneo President Fr. Jett Villarin. Then, they failed to make a splash in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference, not even making it to the semifinals of the tournament.
But they grew by leaps and bounds over the course of the UAAP, and at one point won five consecutive matches.
"We had a lot of opportunities, and we made it," said de Leon. "That was the goal this season, the first goal."
"Of course, everybody wants to be a champion, but it's not for us this year," added de Leon, who won a title with Ateneo in UAAP Season 77.
"I still think we overdid ourselves. Maybe, it's not the best way to end the season kasi 'di ba, three straight losses? But I'm very proud of what my team has achieved."
Ateneo faces an uncertain future with Bundit already declaring that he is leaving the team, and top spiker Jhoana Maraguinot confirming that she will forego her final season of eligibility.
De Leon herself is undecided.
"It's a possibility," she said. "But I don't want to make any rash decisions."
In the meantime, de Leon said she and the rest of the team plan to take a break. It's also possible that de Leon will try out for the women's national volleyball team, having been part of the 34-woman master list that was put together by coach Ramil de Jesus.
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