IT may not be a happy ending for Ateneo’s celebrated 'Fab Five,' but that doesn't mean they need to be sad.
On the day they ended their college careers with a 25-23, 25-20, 25-16 loss to De La Salle in Game Two of the UAAP women's volleyball finals, seniors Gretchen Ho, Fille Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio, Jem Ferrer, and A Nacachi refused to dwell on the disappointment and instead savored their last game together.
So instead of tears inside the Lady Eagles' locker room at the MOA Arena, giggles can be heard from inside as a media scrum waited outside.
Cainglet was the first to emerge from the dugout, rushing toward Ateneo athletic director Ricky Palou not to weep or to say sorry for the loss but to playfully put some icing on the face of the well-loved official.
“We lost but it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate, right?” said Palou as he tried to evade the Lady Eagles star.
Gervacio and Ho soon followed as they playfully ran down the hallway to the next room where the team's coaching staff was huddled. Laughs and shrieks soon followed.
When the merriment was over and the girls have cleaned up, the Lady Eagles finally faced the media, with Cainglet not noticing that there was still some icing on her hair.
“I’m happy. I played with my teammates, and I know somehow we did our best,” she said.
Although the Lady Eagles settled for a bridesmaid finish for the second successive season, the celebrated seniors insisted there were still a lot of things to be thankful for.
“Kahit second place kami, alam naming may pagkukulang kami kaya second lang kami,” said Ho. “Pero it’s still something to celebrate. Hindi namin nakuha ito ng madalian, pinaghirapan namin to.”
“Masaya kahit yung tapos was not the best,” she said. “But, it was good. Tanggap namin. We just have to accept it. Sabi nga ng teammates ko, ‘We are meant for greater things’.”
The Fab Five may have failed to bring a maiden UAAP women's volleyball trophy to Ateneo's Katipunan campus, but Cainglet said the experience of playing in the finals was something she will cherish forever.
“Years after, ito pa din ang pag-uusapan namin, ito pa rin ang babalikan namin," the Bacolod native said. "Masaya kasi ang pinagsamahan namin.”
For Ho, a team that stayed together through thick and thin and, in the process, brought Ateneo's volleyball program to new heights has a lot of reasons to celebrate.
“Celebration siya kasi for five years magkakasama kami, it’s a monumental event kasi we raised the level of Ateneo volleyball,” she said. “There’s a lot to celebrate more than sa pagkatalo namin today.”