MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Shortly after losing to the De La Salle University in the UAAP Season 79 women's volleyball Finals, Ateneo de Manila University setter Jia Morado announced that she will not return for her final year of eligibility.
"I am graduating from the Ateneo, but I've also decided to graduate from the team as well," Morado said in a message to the Ateneo community at the Church of the Gesu on Saturday night.
Morado's decision comes after the Lady Eagles dropped a heartbreaking five-setter to La Salle in Game 2 of the Finals, marking the second straight year that they lost to their archrivals. She had six points and 53 excellent sets in the loss.
The Ateneo community tried to convince Morado to play her final season, chanting "One more year, one more year" even as she stepped up for her speech. The people at the Gesu were clearly surprised at Morado's decision, but she revealed that this has been something she has decided for a while.
"This is something that I've decided even before, and I just chose to keep it to myself because I wanted to stay focused on the team and go for the championship, or wherever God will take us," Morado revealed.
Morado expressed her gratitude to Ateneo, which she called her "dream school," and to the Lady Eagles' coaches, especially Tai Bundit, for teaching her over four seasons. She also thanked the community for its "never-ending support."
"I am looking forward to a new chapter in my life," she said. "I want to thank everyone. It has been a great honor to play for the Ateneo for the past four years. And I know that I will never stop supporting the team, no matter what."
"I will always be part of the Ateneo community," Morado vowed.
Morado was the league's Best Setter in Season 77, and was an integral part of the Lady Eagles' run to the UAAP Season 76 and Season 77 titles.
Her decision is a big blow for the Lady Eagles, who leaned on Morado's spectacular playmaking and leadership to make a run at the Finals in Season 79.
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