Soriano finally wins V-League crown for Ateneo as coach
MANILA—What she failed to do as a player, former Ateneo star volleyball player Charo Soriano finally accomplished as a coach Tuesday when she steered the Lady Eagles to their first Shakey’s V-League title.
The 25-year-old Soriano has been the face of Ateneo volleyball the past few years and while she was able to establish herself as one of the stars in the UAAP and in the V-League, her chase for a title ended in futility.
So when the wait for the crown finally ended two days ago after a pulsating five-set victory over Adamson at the jampacked FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan, Soriano couldn’t help but look back at the time when the Lady Eagles struggled to keep up with the opposition.
“We haven’t been a winning team,” said Soriano. “I guess being a champion team meant learning from our losses, growing and getting better.”
Soriano credited the support of the school and their fans.
“A lot of people have kept their faith in the team even when we were losing and I think that’s enough motivation for us,” said Soriano.
Considering the fact that she was teammates with her players only last season when an ACL injury cut short her stint, Soriano admitted having to change her approach in communicating with the Lady Eagles following her promotion as coach.
“It’s not just like before where we can goof around and laugh about things,” she said. “I had to set limitations.”
The Lady Eagles roared to their best start, winning their first five games, before finally getting stopped in their tracks by a desperate Adamson squad already facing elimination in the quarterfinals.
Their campaign hit a controversial turn in the semifinals when the Lady Eagles forfeited their Game 1 victory to National U because they elevated reserve libero Bea Tan to a regular player, which is a violation of FIVB rules.
The mishap failed to dampen the Lady Eagles spirits and they won the next two matches easily to set up the highly anticipated duel with the Lady Falcons, who handed them a finals defeat in the first conference of Season 5.
Unfazed by an experienced Adamson squad, Ateneo, behind its young core of sophomore Jem Ferrer, Fille Cainglet and Alyssa Valdez, showed steely resolve in winning two come-from-behind matches in the finals.
Cainglet was at her best up front, befuddling the Lady Falcons with off-speed spikes, while Valdez, armed with long arms and superb athleticism, was nearly unstoppable when set up perfectly by Ferrer.
Playing the biggest role, though, was Thai import Kesinee Lithawat, the conference Most Valuable Player, who stood at the forefront of the tough defensive stand by the Lady Eagles aside from providing the leadership in crucial stretches.
Aerieal Patnongon, Angeline Gervacio and libero Den Lazaro also made solid contributions to the squad as members of the regular rotation.
“It was a total team effort,” said Soriano. “I’m very proud of my players.”
The rookie coach admitted wanting to “treat” her players when they gave her a victory in her coaching debut back in early April.
“Now they really deserve that treat,” said Soriano.
With what they accomplished for her and for the school, any kind of treat would be warranted.
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