Milena Alessandrini plays with ‘big heart’ to help UST despite tweaking ankle
MANILA, Philippines —Shrugging off a right ankle injury early in the fourth set, Milena Alessandrini returned and delivered when it mattered most for University of Santo Tomas in handing National University’s first loss in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament.
Alessandrini went down in the fourth set after a bad landing when the game was tied at 6-all. She was assisted by her coaches to walk off the court while crying.
“I was very scared when I went down I thought in my mind something serious again, how can I survive again to face another injury, then I prayed and the coaches helped me to recover to treat my ankle,” said Alessandrini after the game.
But the Filipino-Italian spiker refused to go down without a fight.
She came back in the fifth with the UST fans cheering her name and helped the Tigresses outlast the erstwhile-unbeaten Lady Bulldogs, 25-23, 27-25, 17-25, 22-25, 15-11, that also ended a 20-game winning streak on Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“I really wanted to give my contribution to the team and so I played with a very big heart,” Alessandrini said.
Alessandrini, who had a knee injury in 2019 and faced a long recovery, finished with 14 points and 10 excellent receptions despite playing through an ankle sprain.
“I’m really happy about this result we played as a team, we helped each other with every skill and action and teamwork. We enjoyed every point,” she said.
Despite not feeling any pain right after the game, the returning UST spiker said she needs to get her ankle checked.
“I don’t know right now, I can’t feel anything. I don’t know later. But right now I’m just happy,” Alessandrini said.
UST coach KungFu Reyes, who lauded Alessandrini’s courage, is hoping it’s just a mild ankle sprain.
“You have Filipino blood, after the struggle, what’s important is how you come back. [It’s not how you fall], it’s how you come back. That’s an important thing, especially in the fifth set,” Reyes said to Alessandrini during the postgame. “At least, we rebounded something for her and we achieved personally and character for Milena and for that we are very happy.”