MANILA, Philippines—Ateneo's Kat Tolentino wants to relish the championship feeling first before making a decision regarding her final year of eligibility in the UAAP.
Tolentino scored 15 points in Game 3 of the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball finals, which saw the Lady Eagles close out University of Santo Tomas in straight sets 25-17, 25-22, 25-22.
Afterward, the powerful spiker was flooded with questions whether or not she plans to play in Season 82, in what will be her final season of eligibility for Ateneo.
"I'm not sure yet," she acknowledged. "With what Coach O (Oliver Almadro) said, we just have to pray for it. I don't wanna say anything now."
"I'll just celebrate now. Let's just focus on the championship first, the celebration," she added.
Tolentino was a massive factor in Ateneo's run to the championship, as she totaled 200 points in the elimination round, en route to winning Best Opposite Hitter honors. In the title series, she averaged 12.67 points per game.
Whether she decides to return or not, it has already been quite the career for the towering Tolentino.
The Fil-Canadian's debut for the Lady Eagles was repeatedly spoiled by injuries. She memorably suffered an ACL injury in 2015 while warming up for a V-League game. It was already the third time that she endured such an injury.
She finally made her UAAP debut in Season 79, and was expected to fill the hole that Alyssa Valdez had left. In Season 81, Almadro set high expectations for her as well, saying that she would be the team's "go-to player," much as Marck Espejo had been for the Blue Eagles in the past decade.
"For me, it's not just this season," said Tolentino. "I think it's also a culmination of all the past years that I've been in Ateneo. I mean, people think that I started just 3 years ago, but it actually started my freshman year when I had my ACL injury."
She expressed her gratitude to the physical therapists in the Moro Lorenzo Sports Clinic who helped her regain full fitness, even as she acknowledged that she was unsure of returning to volleyball after suffering a third ACL tear.
"I think having this championship and being here today is something that just makes me speechless," she said.
"Without those three ACL injuries, I wouldn't have had as much passion, and I think I wouldn't be here today, of course. It's only made me the player I am today.
"I'm just thankful to Him for keeping me healthy this season."
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