No regrets, only gratitude: Bea De Leon looks to end UAAP career in best way possible

Going to the last game of her collegiate career, Bea De Leon vows to play with nothing but joy and appreciation in her heart.

De Leon and the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles refused to go down today as they tamed the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses in four sets, 26-24, 14-25, 25-21, 25-15, earlier in Game Two of the UAAP Seaso 81 women’s volleyball title series at the Mall of Asia Arena.

With pressure on their shoulders coming from a straight-set loss last Saturday, the Lady Eagles bounced back and showed character this time around, finally adjusting to the Tigresses and forcing a winner-take-all game this weekend.

The graduating team captain stepped up for Ateneo, registering a 13-point effort to help batchmate Maddie Madayag and junior Kat Tolentino who recorded 17 and 11 points, respectively.

De Leon, who is on her fourth finals stint in the league, reminder her team of what they are capable of and what they have achieved in this tournament to serve as motivation in today’s game.

“I just really wanted to gather them and remind them how hard we worked for today–that we’re prepared and we’re ready–and all the sacrifices, all these months have prepared us for this day,” De Leon said.

Their Game Two performance turned out to be entirely different from their previous showing in Game One, with Ateneo stepping up not only in their defensive game but bringing back their usual block party, scoring eight in the said department.

The team captain, who was part of the championship team of Ateneo in Season 77, said her team struggled to recover in Game One as they played the match unable to stop UST’s offensive firepower.

“We started really slow in Game One–naunahan talaga kami and we had such little time coming from the FEU game. They really powered through our blocks, and our receives didn’t work,” De Leon said.

After a hard-earned opening set win, the Lady Eagles failed to get their momentum going as they dropped the succeeding set in lopsided fashion.

In response, Madayag and De Leon collaborated in the third, giving Ateneo an early lead enough to stop a late resurgence by UST inspired by Eya Laure, who returned to the game after suffering an injury early in the set.

It was all Ateneo from then on as they pounced on their two-set advantage and kept their momentum going in the fourth, leading early and erasing all chances for a UST comeback.

Tying the title series with one game apiece, De Leon and the Lady Eagles have a shot to give their school its third championship in the league, as they missed success in the past three years after back-to-back championships in Season 76 and 77.

Going into their final game of her UAAP career on Saturday, De Leon promised to do everything in her capacity and to play her heart out to end the season without any regrets.

“Whatever happens, we keep praying that we enjoy every moment kasi whatever else is next for us, we made it this far and it’s already big for us,” De Leon said.

“Talaga for us, we’ll just go to Game Three with grateful hearts, with happy hearts, with love for each other and love for the game that we really love,” she ended.

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