Lady Eagles eye repeat win over Tigresses.
UNDER new coach Oliver Almadro, Ateneo is supposed to have been on a rebuilding mode.
Instead, the Lady Eagles, thriving with Almadro’s mantra of “faith, trust and courage”, found themselves alone on top of the UAAP women’s volleyball standings with a 6-1 record.
Bracing for a tough second round grind, Ateneo will test the mettle of the league’s second hottest team in University of Santo Tomas at 4 p.m. today at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
“We really have to put in more effort and sacrifice,” said Almadro, a three-time men’s division champion coach who took over from Tai Bundit in the off-season.
“Hopefully the positivity and energy will manifest in the second round,” he added.
Behind the heads-up plays of Kat Tolentino and Maddie Madayag and the unquestioned leadership displayed by Bea de Leon all-tournament long, the Lady Eagles are looking good to make a return trip on top.
Written off after a season-opening loss to defending three-time champion La Salle, Ateneo found its groove by winning six consecutive games to become the first round topnotcher.
But the Lady Eagles are wary of the Tigresses, who finished the first round with a three-match winning streak to level with the Lady Spikers in second place at 5-2.
Enjoying its best first round campaign since the 2009-10 season, UST hardly felt the loss of injured Milena Alessandrini with the league-leading scorers Sisi Rondina and Eya Laure doing the damage with some help from Dimdim Pacres.
The Tigresses’ winning run would not be possible without rookie playmaker Mafe Galanza, whom coach Kungfu Reyes considered as a ‘blessing’ for the España-based squad that is looking to make a return trip in the Final Four after missing the bus last year.
“So malaking bagay, napakalaking blessing ng bata para sa amin, sana ganoon din kami sa kanya,” said Reyes, referring to Galanza.
Ranged against reigning Best Setter Deanna Wong, Galanza, the younger sister of former Adamson standout Jema, will definitely be the key for UST to avenge its 21-25, 18-25, 25-16, 22-25 loss to Ateneo last Feb. 20.