Despite critics, Oliver Almadro never stopped believing in Lady Eagles

Despite the disbelief thrown at them throughout the season, Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro always kept his faith in the Lady Eagles and never stopped supporting his team.

Today, he has been rewarded in the best way possible.

Almadro steered the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles back to the promised land after subduing the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses in straight sets, 25-17, 25-22, 25-22, to clinch the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball championship earlier at the Mall of Asia Arena.

After a dominant opening set win to draw first blood, the Lady Eagles successfully contained the Tigresses’ late-game comebacks in the succeeding two sets with both their offense and defense on point to take Game Three and win the title series.

Kat Tolentino and Maddie Madayag spearheaded the Katipunan squad anew, registering 15 and 10 points respectively to bring Ateneo back to the top.

With the victory, Almadro succesfully caps off his first coaching year with the Lady Eagles as a champion.

No stranger to championships after a three-peat feat with Ateneo in the men’s volleyball division, the head coach commended his team for playing their hearts out this season and proving all their critics wrong.

“It’s not how you start, it’s how you end. We lost the first match of the season, and a lot of people counted us out–bobo daw outside hitters namin, wala kaming receive, wala kaming defense–but we made it,” Almadro said.

Despite their struggles and the doubts placed at them all throughout the season, Almadro and the Lady Eagles persevered to work their way up in the standings and gain a dominant facade in the league.

Their efforts paved the way to a number one finish after the elimination round, and ultimately the school’s third women’s volleyball title.

“It’s because of our faith and our courage. We slowly started–wala kaming receive, wala kaming depensa–but we went up,” Almadro said.

In her first year as head coach, Almadro made sure to send off her seniors Madayag, Bea De Leon, and Kim Gequillana with a title under their names.

He credited his players for putting up with his system amid the difficulties and the adjustments, saying his team really wanted to end it perfectly this season.

“Na-endure nila ‘yung pangungulit ko, ‘yung sigaw ko, and I’m really persistent sa kanila. Hindi ko sila sinukuan,” Almadro said.

“Nung game ng FEU, sabi nila hindi daw kami mananalo–but we made it. This one, na nakuha ng UST ‘yung Game One, sabi nila hindi daw kami mananalo sa UST–but we made it. Ang importante talaga, they really wanted it and worked hard for it,” he added.

Their journey back to the top this season was enervating and full of doubt–some already counted them out from the race after losing their opening game to the defending champions. As the season progressed, the Lady Eagles showed their true form as one working unit, bringing that up to the final round and taking it all.

As he ends the season in the best scenario possible, Almadro hopes to continue this championship culture in the years to come.

“They will not be perfect players, and I will not be the perfect coach. But we work as a family, and that’s what’s important,” Almadro ended.

 

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