by Kristel Satumbaga
Ateneo rookie coach Oliver Almadro is optimistic the Lady Eagles will bounce back after losing to University of Santo Tomas in Game 1 of the UAAP women’s volleyball championship finals series Saturday.
Almadro, who replaced Thai mentor Tai Bundit this season, refused to elaborate about their defeat but offered a single line on his way out of the dugout of the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We still believe,” said Almadro.
The Lady Eagles, who seek to reclaim the throne after failing over the last three years, bowed to the more energized Tigresses, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20.
It was Ateneo’s first loss to UST in their last 16 meetings.
Contributing to that defeat was the collapse of Ateneo’s defense against the hard-hitting spikers of the Tigresses led by Season Most Valuable Player Sisi Rondina and Rookie of the Year Eya Laure.
The duo fired from all angles, combining for 29 of the team’s 46 kills.
Ateneo also gave up 10 aces and made only one courtesy of Maddie Madayag.
Meanwhile, UST is not up for celebration yet as it aims to go all-out in Game 2 on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Paninindigan na namin to. Yung mga UST supporters, andyan sila through ups and downs. Kaya dapat huwag din kaming mawawala sa Game 2,” said Rondina as she seeks a glorious exit on her collegiate career.
“Walang magiging kampante sa amin after this win. Tamang mindset lang,” added Laure.
A Game 2 win for UST would end its nine-year title drought while a loss would arrange a knockout match on March 18 at the same venue.