MANILA, Philippines—Despite Ateneo’s worst start in 13 years, co-captains Faith Nisperos and Vanie Gandler glued their team together to remain in the hunt in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament.
Gandler and Nisperos showed sense of urgency to bring back Ateneo’s winning ways with a much-needed 25-16, 25-20, 25-22 victory over struggling University of the Philippines on Sunday at FilOil EcoOil Centre.
“The past days we tried to focus on what we need to do and not on what happened before,” said Nisperos, who finished with 14 points. “It helped that we stayed in the moment, we worked and we planned as a team, and good thing, everyone is contributing.”
Gandler, who shone with 17 points, agreed with her co-captain, saying that win or lose, they have to stick together.
“We’re happy now we had a win but even through the losses, through the process, we still enjoy every step of the way because those losses help us become better and help us grow,” she said. “We don’t look at the failure as it’s over for us, it’s an opportunity to be better.”
Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro lauded Nisperos and Gandler for helping the team remain steadfast amid their recent struggles.
“It’s been a tough season. But more so we have to come together and that’s what we’ve been doing,” Gandler said. “We’ve been really trying to work together as one team and like what Faith said really focused on what we need to do more. The past games really showed us our weaknesses and we can build on them.”
Almadro hopes their second win in the first round will light the fire under the Blue Eagles, who hope to make a strong Final Four push in the second round.
“We will just use this as fuel to strengthen ourselves going to the next round. It’s really a tough year, all teams beefed up, but I have Faith and I have faith in my players,” said Almadro, whose squad dropped five of its last six games.
“I keep on telling them to commit to the defense and commit to the reception. I guess today they stepped up in receiving and defense. We have to commit and attempt. If we need to post those words at the Blue Eagle gym we will do it to remind them to keep going, try and try and who knows what we might get,” he added.