Kat Tolentino has been Ateneo’s self-effacing, silent operator for the past several years.
But now that she has returned to the nest of the Lady Eagles for one last dance, the Filipina-Canadian winger is more than willing to take on the mantle of leadership.
“Maybe a more mature one, not just with the technical skills but also in terms of leadership for the team,” Tolentino admitted when asked of the expectations for her in the approaching UAAP Season 82 Women’s Volleyball tournament.
“Our goal will always be the UAAP championship. But coming into this season, I feel like I will try to bring more skills and experience from what I learned in playing for Choco Mucho in PVL.”
And no one is happier to see such maturity in Tolentino than her longtime teammate Maddie Madayag, who feels relieved knowing that a veteran presence will be there to steer a relatively young core of Lady Eagles in a bid to defend Ateneo’s throne.
“Very promising talaga, especially na may senior pa rin na kayang dalhin ang team next year. I think it was mostly me and Bea who were parang leading the team [before],” said the towering middle blocker, who is also Tolentino’s teammate in Choco Mucho alongside Bea De Leon.
“But now it’s Kat’s time.”
She then continued, “Hindi na lang siya scoring machine, leader na rin talaga siya. ‘Di lang sa scoring kun’di sa pati sa pagbuhat sa mga bata.”
Madayag acknowledges that Tolentino has a rather calm and reserved personality. Still, she has no doubt that the 6-foot-3 opposite hitter is more than capable of leading through her prowess.
“Actually, tahimik talaga si Kat,” Madayag said. “I think mapapakita naman niya ang leadership niya the way she plays naman eh.
“I think she can handle it naman.”
Madayag also believes that Tolentino’s mere presence will do wonders for Ateneo’s young nucleus.
“Of course, titingnang inspiration ng mga mga bata si Kat kasi siyempre, sino namang hindi?” she said. “Lalo na si Faith [Nisperos] kasi nakausap namin siya before na she wants to be teammates with Kat talaga. So now that her dream came true, sana naman mas maging inspiration for her to play better.
“Kasi we saw how she played naman in the PVL ‘di ba? It’s gonna be an exciting season.”