MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball team received a boost in its rebuilding campaign after veteran middle blocker Bea de Leon confirmed that she will play in her final season of eligibility for the Lady Eagles.
De Leon, who scored a total of 110 points in Ateneo’s campaign in UAAP Season 80, said Thursday that she still has “unfinished business” with the team.
“Siguro, after reflecting and really thinking about it, I rarely get this chance to play five years in the UAAP,” said de Leon, who helped the Lady Eagles win the UAAP Season 77 title in her rookie year.
“If I prolong it, it might not be the same,” she added. “Basically, there’s unfinished business for me.”
“As long as there is a chance to reach my goal, I’ll go for it.”
De Leon was unsure of her return to the Lady Eagles following their campaign in Season 80, where they placed third – ending a string of six consecutive finals appearances.
After that year, Ateneo also bid goodbye to beloved coach Tai Bundit, who steered the team to back-to-back championships in Seasons 76 and 77.
De Leon went on to play for the Foton Tornadoes in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) Invitational Conference, forming a “Triple Tower” with sisters Jaja Santiago and Didin Santiago-Manabat. The Tornadoes were unable to live up to the hype, however, and settled for seventh place in the tournament.
“I really wanted to enjoy, and I learned a lot,” De Leon said of her stint with Foton. “I was with Coach Tai for the past four years, so it was nice to learn with other coaches also.”
“Iba ‘yung pattern, iba ‘yung ginagawa sa training,” she added.
It remains to be seen, however, if De Leon will play for Foton in the upcoming All-Filipino Cup, now that she has confirmed her return to the Lady Eagles.
“We’ll see,” she said. “For now, alam nilang priority ko ang Ateneo.”
De Leon joins a rebuilding Ateneo squad that lost top scorer Jhoana Maraguinot at the end of Season 80. However, also confirmed to return for Season 81 are team captain Maddie Madayag and towering open spiker Kat Tolentino. The Lady Eagles will also still have reigning Best Setter Deanna Wong.
Set to call the shots for the team is multi-titled mentor Oliver Almadro.
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