UAAP: Mixed emotions for Milena Alessandrini in UST return after ACL injury
MANILA, Philippines —After a hard recovery from an ACL injury, Milena Alessandrini had mixed emotions as she finally returned to the court in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
Four years after tearing the ACL on her left knee, Alessandrini was back in action as University of Santo Tomas fell short to La Salle in five sets in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“Actually I had a mix of emotions because I didn’t play for a long time,” said the Filipino-Italian spiker.
Alessandrini finished with 10 points in in the Tigresses’ 20-25, 25-16, 8-25, 25-15, 14-16 loss to the Lady Spikers–her first game back since 2019.
The 25-year-old spiker, who went down with a knee injury in Season 81 and missed the action in the league’s pandemic return last year, offered her return to the people who supported her after going through a lot of ups and downs.
“It was very hard after the first operation my knee didn’t improve so I have to take a second operation. I had a lot of ups and downs,” Alessandrini said. “When I came here I started to play again volleyball since I stopped in 2019 so very long journey and very hard. But I have to say a lot of people helped me, supported me, especially [in days I doubted myself].”
The graduating UST player is eager to improve more to help her team. She put on the finishing touches in the fourth set to force a decider and scored four in the fifth to keep her team afloat tied at 11 all before committing a crucial service error that put La Salle at match point, 15-14, followed by Eya Laure’s attack miscue.
“It’s the first game so I need to improve a lot, especially my mentality, my mind and to face all the [challenges this] season,” she said.
UST coach KungFu Reyes commended Alessandrini for her determination to finish what she started when she played in the UAAP last 2018.
“We’re very lucky because she returned. She wanted to finish what she started,” Reyes said.
Reyes hopes Alessandrini will reach her full recovery and best shape before the first round ends.
“Her attacks are not yet loaded. We are working on that every day. Hopefully, she will be able to stay at the pace of the game. What’s important now is how she defends the net and how she plays the defense in the back row. That will be her edge,” the UST coach said.