Ateneo de Manila University is ushering in a new era for the upcoming UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament.
Firstly, the Blue Eagles will welcome a new head coach, Sergio Veloso, who replaces Oliver Almadro.
Secondly, the team will shift its focus towards youth, growth, and development, with last year’s leaders Faith Nisperos and Vanie Gandler – along with Joan Narit and Kiara Cruz – now turning professional in the Premier Volleyball League.
Despite these changes, Roma Mae Doromal is embracing the challenge of leading this new-look Ateneo squad. The players and Veloso are working hand in hand to propel the Blue Eagles back to their former glory on the Taraflex.
“Yung pressure nandoon pero wala eh, wala kaming magagawa doon but i-embrace na lang yung pressure na yun,” said Doromal, who is now one of the leaders of this young team.
Key holdovers include middle blocker AC Miner and wing spiker Lyann De Guzman. They, along with Doromal, are expected to be the team’s cornerstones as they aim to return to the Final Four after finishing sixth in Season 85.
The 23-year-old defensive specialist also lauded the Brazilian tactician, who is guiding the Blue Eagles every step of the way in their path to improvement.
She specifically emphasized how Veloso is changing the team’s mentality in approaching games.
“With Coach Sergio, hini-help niya naman kami skill by skill and then chine-change niya rin yung mentality namin sa game na kailangan i-enjoy namin kasi doon namin mas mailalabas yung laro namin,” added Doromal.
For the players, Doromal assured that they are diligently applying all the teachings from Veloso for their collective growth.
After more than six months of preparation, Ateneo is slowly reaping the rewards of its hard work, securing a fourth-place finish in the recently concluded Akari Cup, just behind Adamson University and PVL teams Akari and NXLED.
However, she was quick to acknowledge that the Blue Eagles are still far from their desired level.
“Always ngang sinasabi hindi siya smooth-sailing especially new coach and new system pero nandoon naman kami, open kami and very willing kami na mag improve,” said the senior libero.
“Lahat ng tinuturo niya talaga inaaccept lahat namin yun and natutuwa naman kami kasi nakikita naman namin yung results na nakakapag-keep up kami so kailangan lang namin maging consistent pa and training pa kami.”