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Lazaro on her physical condition and team’s extended break

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After sweeping the elimination round for the first time in school history and earning a coveted spot in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals, the Lady Eagles also nabbed an almost two week break from on-court action. Many would expect Ateneo Libero Denden Lazaro to take this opportunity to take a break and heal off some of her nagging injuries.

Lazaro, however, insisted that there was no time for her and her team to relax. “‘Di kami magpapahinga. Walang pahinga, training pa rin kami,” Lazaro told Tiebreaker Times.

Lazaro does have an extensive record of injuries, and this season hasn’t been too kind on her as well. Lazaro suffered a sprained ankle in their second round triumph against the Adamson Lady Falcons. In their next few matches, the Lady Eagles deliberately lightened Lazaro’s load, having other teammates cover more ground on service receptions. Lazaro soldiered on and looked amazing in their last match against the Lady Spikers.

“Wala ‘yun. Pagod lang. Just normal wear and tear of the volleyball season,” said Lazaro when asked about the limp she had at the latter of the La Salle game.

The time off should still help the ailing Lady Eagles squad, as they have several key players who suffered injuries that caused them to miss games. Middle blocker, Bea De Leon was prescribed to have surgery after dislocating her index finger during practice, but opted to postpone it until the end of the season. De Leon’s backup middle blockers, Maddie Madayag and Aeriel Patnongon both sprained their ankles during the same game, while their star spiker, Alyssa Valdez also played through a cut on her hand and shoulder pains.

Beyond those injuries, the Lady Eagles remained invincible in the second round, thrashing one team after another. “I guess ‘yung program ni Coach Tai, it’s what he makes us do in training and what he teaches us, and ‘yung pag-gel na rin ng team,” the defensive ace quipped when asked about the difference between this year’s team and past Lady Eagle squads.

Lazaro remarked about what she tells her young teammates who have been stepping up and making huge contributions. “Just to relax, focus on the game, and makinig lang kay Coach Tai, which is what they [teammates] do naman. I’m glad na kapag pinapasok sila, naipapakita nila ‘yung potential nila.”

The Lady Eagles await the winner of the La Salle-NU face-off, wherein the Lady Spikers hold a twice-to-beat advantage. The first match of that series will be on Wednesday at the MoA Arena.

Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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