Fit again Bea de Leon surprised to play and be part of starting six in Ateneo's win over La Salle
Bea de Leon played a big part in Ateneo clinching an outright finals berth in the UAAP women's volleyball finals following its four-set win over La Salle. Dante Peralta

“SHE’S back,” read one courtside banner at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Indeed, Ateneo rookie Bea de Leon heralded her return from injury after playing a major role in the Lady Eagles’ return stint in the finals of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.

The Lady Eagles’ ace middle blocker readily made her presence felt as she scored 11 points, including three blocks, in the team’s 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 27-25 win over De La Salle that completed a 14-game sweep of the eliminations and outright berth in the championship series.

De Leon injured her right index finger during one evening practice by the team at the Blue Eagles gym.

Her jump came a little late as she attempted to block Maddie Madayag’s spike, resulting to an open dislocation that sidelined her for about two weeks.

Ironically, the 5-11 de Leon didn’t know she was going to play on Wednesday against the Lady Spikers only until the match began and the team’s first six was called.

“Today ko lang nalaman, as in noong tinatawag na kami (for the first six),” revealed a stunned de Leon.

Still, that didn’t prevent her from delivering an inspired performance notwithstanding an ailing wound.

“I was really happy and I was really eager to play and to go back,” she said. “It was lesser pain, pero syempre adrenaline na lang ‘yun and na-miss ko maglaro.”

De Leon did not want to go under operation as it meant missing the remainder of the tournament.

“If I underwent a surgery I would’ve been out for sure,” she said.

Following Ateneo’s sweep of the eliminations, three other teams will go through the stepladder phase with La Salle (12-2) and National University (7-6) already assured of their spots in the semis.

University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, Adamson, and Far Eastern University, all of which are locked in a four-way tie at fourth spot, will dispute the last ticket to the semifinals.

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