Maddie Madayag says ‘not today’ as Ateneo clinches finals berth

In their most important match of the season, Maddie Madayag played to a single battle-cry: not today.

Madayag and the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles successfully booked their tickets to the finals after overpowering the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws in four sets, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 25-14, earlier in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball semifinals at the Filoil Flying V Center.

After losing their first semifinal game that forced today’s decider, the Lady Eagles made sure they wouldn’t be denied the second time by the Lady Tamaraws, the team who also defeated them in the semifinals last season.

The graduating middle blocker came up big for Ateneo as she finished with 12 points to help Kat Tolentino’s 19-point effort.

Coming out victorious today felt good for Madayag, who said it has always been their goal to bring Ateneo back to the finals after last season’s heartbreak.

“I’m kind of speechless since it’s our last year na rin, so it’s really nice to hear that Ateneo is back in the finals. We just trusted the Lord and trusted each other–we had the opportunity and we grabbed it,” Madayag said.

After suffering a crucial hiccup last Saturday when they dropped a five-set game against the Lady Tamaraws, the Lady Eagles quickly regrouped and refused to entertain the thought that today would be their last game of the season.

“Hindi namin sinali sa option na last game namin. It’s not part of the plan,” Madayag firmly said.

The first set started out as a tug of war between both teams, with the Lady Eagles pulling away mid-set with Madayag catching fire at the net to give her team the momentum to take the set.

However, the second set turned out to be a different story as the Katipunan team lost their early lead after a comeback by FEU midway into the set to tie the game one set apiece.

The Lady Tamaraws gave the Lady Eagles a scare as they saved three set points, 23-24, but open spiker Ponggay Gaston sealed the deal with an off-the-block spike for a two-set advantage.

It was all Ateneo from then on as the Lady Tamaraws lost steam in the fourth set, with the Lady Eagles firing from all ends to take the victory and send themselves back to the championship round, a feat they last achieved back in Season 79.

Going up in the finals against the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses, a team they defeated twice in the eliminations, Madayag said the title will be given to the team who displays the stronger character.

“Ibang usapan na ‘yung finals sa elimination round. For sure, both teams will give everything they’ve got. But in the end, it all boils down to character,” the graduating player said.

Madayag and the rest of the Lady Eagles look to get first blood in Game One this Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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