Looking back, hard work did the trick for Ateneo
There’s no shortage of plot lines to revisit in Ateneo’s historic romp of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament six years ago.
Yet, Alyssa Valdez and Ella de Jesus said getting through their Thai coach Anusorn “Tai” Bundit’s dreaded practices is the first thing that comes to mind whenever they look back at that glorious season.
“We were about ‘one game at a time.’ But … winning was really farthest from our minds because we were always thinking how we’d survive training with coach Tai,” Valdez, team’s outside hitter and biggest star, said in the latest episode of the “Prospects Pod.”
“Actually, we preferred that every day was game day,” she said in Filipino with a chuckle. “That way, our load is lighter.”
“We got to a point that we’d tell ourselves ‘Guys, this is our last training. Let’s just enjoy ourselves.’” added De Jesus, who served as the team’s libero.
“But then we’d keep on winning.”
That cast of the Lady Eagles etched itself in Philippine volleyball lore for delivering Ateneo’s first-ever women’s title despite going through five knockout games, including the three consecutive matches in the stepladder semifinals.
As if such a feat was not impressive enough, that magnificent run put an end to La Salle’s dynastic three-year reign.
According to De Jesus, Ateneo simply went through the motions of training and competing, until they all fell on the cusp of victory and went for all the marbles.
“They train so hard,” said host and basketball star Kiefer Ravena, who also played for the Katipunan-based school during his varsity days.
If anything, Valdez and De Jesus both believe it was Bundit’s fearsome training—which produced the fabled “Heart Strong” mantra—as the biggest factor that greased Ateneo’s ascent to the ranks. INQ
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