By: Ohmer Bautista
If there is one thing that Oliver Almadro asks from the volleyball fans, it’s to never lose faith in the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles.
After steering the Lady Eagles to their first title since the UAAP Season 77 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, Almadro did not hold back from reminding everyone of what he and his team have been through since the start of the season.
“We lost the first match of the season,” the first-year Lady Eagle tactician recalled, as they were swept by the DLSU Lady Spikers on opening day.
“Many people counted us out. Bobo daw outside hitters namin, wala kaming receive, wala kaming defense.”
With the odds highly stacked against them at the onset of the season, coach Almadro used the criticisms hurled at his team as added fuel to their fire.
“They counted out everybody but I trust them. Yun talaga ang pinaka-importante sa lahat: you trust your family,” he added. “This is family. Many people counted us out but we made it!
“It’s because of our faith and because of our courage. I really tell you, guys, it’s really the faith and the courage.”
And as he looked back, everything fell into place for his team. They molded their chemistry and cohesion, which ultimately led them to their ultimate goal – a title.
“Sabi ko sa kanila when we lost the first game, it’s not important. What’s important is the last game of the season,” the now five-time UAAP champion coach expressed. “Yung game against FEU, sabi nila hindi raw kami mananalo sa FEU, but we made it.
“This one, noong nakuha ng UST ang Game One, sabi nila hindi raw namin mananalo sa UST. Pero we made it. Importante lang talaga ay they really want it,” he continued.
“They really worked hard for it, and they really trusted me.”
Pressure will be on the Lady Eagles next season, as they might lose as much as four players in the graduating Bea De Leon, Maddie Madayag, Kim Gequillana, and Kat Tolentino. However, Tolentino is still pondering whether to leave on a high note or to have one last run.
But for Almadro, for as long as the remaining Lady Eagles continue to treat each other as more than teammates, they could once again shock the country.
“We will not be those perfect players, but we work as a team. We work as a family. That’s what is important. Sometimes, talent, science, and skills, it’s not important,” he opined.
“What’s important is how you train, how you trust each other, and how you put the faith in God.”
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