A feat like no other: Kim Gequillana graduates as three-time champion with Lady Eagles

After a heartbreaking absence from last season, Kim Gequillana made sure to play her heart out in her final campaign for the Katipunan squad.

The Lady Eagles achieved the ending they wanted as they overpowered the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses in a straight-set victory, 25-12, 25-22, 25-22, to take the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball title earlier at the Mall of Asia Arena.

After a strong win in the opening set against the Tigresses, the Lady Eagles showed character in the succeeding sets amid late-game comebacks by UST to end the match quickly and win the title series.

Ateneo, who finished as the top-ranked team in the elimination round, successfully clinched its third championship in the league, last winning back-to-back titles back in Seasons 76 and 77.

With that, Gequillana becomes the only Lady Eagle to graduate with three titles under her name, finishing her last year with Maddie Madayag and Bea De Leon as champions.

The graduating libero credited her teammates for a job well done this season, keeping their eyes on the prize despite the difficult path they had to walk through.

“It’s the whole experience talaga. It’s not just about today, but about the hard work that we accomplished, and all the ups and downs that we’ve had. With Coach O, he reminds us that kaya naming gawin and it all boils down to the trust he has with us and the trust we have in ourselves,” she said.

Her efforts became instrumental for Ateneo’s title campaign this year, taking over the defensive side along with sophomore Dani Ravena.

Their defensive heroics proved vital especially in their title series against the Tigresses, with their various digs and saves making it possible for their attackers to get the point.

It was an inspired comeback by Gequillana, who returned this season and wholeheartedly embraced the libero position after being an open spiker in her previous four years.

After sitting out last season to nurse her injury, the graduating libero came back this season with a newfound fire to bring Ateneo back to lost glory.

“It’s just the thirst to win, and the passion was there, the fire, the comeback. I really wanted to push–I’ll do whatever that could help the team,” she said.

Gequillana has had quite a colorful journey with the Lady Eagles. She was an open spiker who helped her team to back-to-back championships in her first two years, before experiencing heartbreaking bridesmaid finishes in her next two seasons.

Despite a drastic change from offense to solely defense, Gequillana still pushed through and made it a point to return with the same desire of getting the crown for the Katipunan squad.

“For my first two years, we won, and then we kind of lost, and then I wasn’t part of the last season’s lineup. It’s really being able to stand up again,” Gequillana said.

“It’s really memorable for me, especially this year, because we really worked hard–it is really teamwork that put us here to where we are now,” she ended.