WHAT does Ateneo do coming off a Game One loss to bitter rival La Salle in the UAAP Season 78 women's volleyball finals?
Already known for his Spartan-like training regimen, Ateneo coach Tai Bundit raised the intensity level on Monday night as the Lady Eagles prepare to rebound from a 22-25, 22-25, 21-25 loss to the Lady Spikers at the start of the best-of-three finals on Saturday.
Their backs against the wall, Alyssa Valdez and Co. had their game face on during the afternoon practice session that stretched to two-and-a-half hours at the Blue Eagles Gym inside the Ateneo campus.
“Ganoon talaga kami (hard training), and eventually you get the hang of it,” she said later. “In the training you’re gonna set the mood, you’re gonna see your teammates, titignan ka nila kung focused ka, ‘yung coaches mo kailangan talaga ‘yun (seryoso ka).
“And eventually pag nakuha na namin ang galaw ng isa’t isa, (ok na),” she added. “Kasi lahat pagod from school kailangan talagang i-set. Then you’re gonna feel your really not alone and everyone’s really gonna help you perform.”
Valdez, named the league MVP for a third time on Monday night, said she isn' surprised that the Lady Eagles are down 0-1 in the finals, insisting that they considered themselves underdogs coming into the season after the departure of Denden Lazaro, Ella de Jesus and Aerieal Patnongon.
Ateneo also lost sophomore middle blocker Maddie Madayag to an ACL injury last March 16.
“At the start of the UAAP we know we’re really underdogs, we really lost so many players," said Valdez, adding the mission only got harder after the Game One loss. “I think going into the Finals, let’s accept the fact that (after) Game One, it’s harder to get back.”
To pull off a third successive championship, the Lady Eagles, Valdez said, should return to doing what they do best - playing happy and 'heart strong.'
"I think our mindset, we really have to go back to what we believe in, our teammates, coaches and system always gonna go back playing happy, united and heart strong, (even) strongest heart this time,” she added.