ATENEO'S senior stars are motivated to go out on a high when the Lady Eagles take on arch-rivals De La Salle in the UAAP women's volleyball finals beginning with Game One on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A maiden UAAP championship for the Lady Eagles would serve as a fitting farewell for captain Dzi Gervacio, Gretchen Ho, Fille Cainglet, Jem Ferrer, and Denden Lazaro, who have brought the school's volleyball program to new heights during their collegiate careers.
“Inspiration namin na maglaro ng all out and it’s our last chance to grab the championship,” Gervacio told Spin.ph at the end of the Lady Eagles practice at the Moro Lorenzo gym, echoing the feelings of her fellow seniors.
That it would be La Salle's Lady Spikers who would be on the other side of the net is a source of motivation for Ateneo's 'Fab Five,' who had lost to their bitter rivals in last year's finals and are now out to settle the score in the best-of-three championship series.
“Lalaban kami knowing na last year na namin ngayon,” said the charismatic Ho. “Last chance na namin makakaharap yung La Salle."
The experience of having played in last year's finals is also expected to work to the Lady Eagles' advantage. "Nakatulong din sa amin yung unang championship experience for us, so wala na kaming excuse na hindi maglalaro ng mabuti,” said Ho.
The five, however, know it won't be easy denying La Salle a hat-trick of titles.
For Cainglet, the best-of-three title series feels like the final exam at the end of her college years at the Katipunan-based school.
“It’s like the final test,” said the Bacolod native. “Kasi nag-aral ka for five years, ito na yung final exam mo. Pinaghandaan mo, lahat ng alam mo sa volleyball, lahat ng skills, improvement, lahat ng nalaman mo lahat ng natutunan buhos na sa game of our lives.”
In the end, the five yearn to write a storybook ending to their Ateneo careers and leave a lasting legacy.
“Sana sa pag-alis namin may maiiwan kaming legacy,” said Ho. “Yung nabago namin yung volleyball ng Ateneo. Napa-champion namin.”