MANILA, Philippines – University of the Philippines (UP) veteran Angeli Araneta decided to return to the Lady Maroons for her final year of eligibility as she believes she still has some unfinished business with the squad.
"Last year, meron kaming goals," Araneta told ABS-CBNnews.com. "Pero unfortunately, hindi namin 'yun na-reach."
The Lady Maroons underachieved last season, as they won only three of their 14 games. But their last two games of the season showed the squad's promise, as they stunned Far Eastern University before beating University of the East to end the tournament on a two-game winning streak.
Araneta admitted that her return to UP was far from a foregone conclusion.
"Before our (last game), hindi pa ako sure. Mas malaking percent pa 'yung hindi na talaga ako maglalaro," she said. "Pero throughout nung mga days na magkakasama kami, doon din ako nakapag-decide."
It helped that her teammates lobbied hard on social media, telling fans to encourage her to stay.
"Pati sa Twitter, may hashtag. Feeling ko, na-push din ako," said Araneta.
With Araneta back in the fold and the continued improvement of their young players including Katherine Bersola, the veteran opposite hitter is optimistic about their chances this season.
"Nag-decide ako na maglaro ulit, at sana ma-reach na namin 'yung mga goals namin as a team," she said. "Hopefully, ma-surprise namin (ang ibang team), pero sure naman na halos lahat ng team sa UAAP, naghahanda na rin."
Talks of UP being a potential dark horse this season have only fueled the Lady Maroons, she said.
"Nagiging motivation na rin siya, kasi wala rin namang nawala sa team namin ngayon, so marami kaming pwedeng maipakita this season," said Araneta.
Araneta herself is hoping that she will be able to help the team reach the Final Four before she leaves the Lady Maroons.
"Gusto ko talagang maiwan 'yung team na nasa Final Four," she said. "Sa tagal ko sa UP, lagi kaming underdogs. Gusto ko mabago na 'yung tingin talaga sa amin."
The UAAP Season 77 women's volleyball tournament starts on November 22.