MANILA, Philippines -- Ateneo de Manila University head coach Oliver Almadro commended the Blue Eagles on Thursday after they responded to adversity by taking down Far Eastern University (FEU) for their first win of UAAP Season 84.
The Blue Eagles started the women's volleyball tournament with three consecutive defeats, the first time since 2013 that they have lost that many matches in succession.
They finally broke through against the Lady Tamaraws, pulling off a 25-16, 25-14, 25-14 triumph behind a balanced effort that saw three players score in double-digits.
"We're happy na nasa win column na kami. I'm not saying naman na sobrang lungkot namin ng mga past three games but alam namin na we are going up eh," Almadro said after the game.
"They responded right away sa challenge ko sa kanila yesterday. And they challenged themselves also," he said of his players.
The Blue Eagles won the UAAP Season 81 championship but have struggled at the start of their title defense, which Almadro attributed to a lack of build-up as well as the relative inexperience of his players. He pointed out that their top option, Faith Nisperos, has yet to complete a full season as her rookie year was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Setter Jaja Maraguinot and spiker Vanie Gandler are part of the starting six for the first time in their UAAP careers, and Ateneo has two young middle blockers -- Alexis Miner and Joan Narit.
"Sabi ko sa kanila, don't focus right away doon sa malayo pa. So one game at a time, one day at a time. Keep on improving every day, and we will get it," said the coach. "Slowly, we will get it."
"Hindi mo pwede silang pressurin into winning right away, kasi ang ikli eh. Ikli ng preparation," he added. "Now, they can say now na pwede na silang lumaban, kasi naka-experience na sila ng ilang games."
Their victory against FEU -- a team that had momentum after winning their previous game -- will be a good springboard for the Blue Eagles as they look to build on Thursday's result.
Ateneo will play the University of the Philippines on Saturday.
"Based on experience of the past three games namin, mabibigat. So I guess it's a good experience for us going to the next three games," said Almadro, whose team lost to De La Salle University, National University, and Adamson University in their first three assignments.
"We will bring this, kung anong natutunan namin, ano natutunan ng mga players ko in these games, we will bring sa mga next games namin. Hopefully mag-transpire ito into a win again," he added.