IT’S all about winning and not revenge.
Ateneo got back at last year’s tormentor National University when it won its first ever UAAP men’s volleyball title on Saturday, beating the back-to-back champions, 23-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-15, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
It was the first major men’s volleyball title for the Katipunan-based school since winning the 1976 championship under coach Pitong Custodio back when the Blue Eagles were still competing in the NCAA.
Blue Eagles coach Oliver Almadro, however, downplayed the team’s win over the Bulldogs, stressing the Blue Eagles were not after vengeance following their loss to the same team in last year’s finals.
“Hindi naman revenge eh,” said Almadro. “Mas masarap lang siya (panalo) kasi pinaghirapan namin.”
“We really wanted to win, we really worked hard for this,” he added. “For God kasi, He’s never late or never early.”
The outspoken mentor went down on his knees and prayed the moment the Blue Eagles sealed the championship on a Rex Intal running spike off Fauzi Ismail. He was seen crying at the Ateneo bench as players and school officials hugged and congratulated him.
Almadro was still emotional when he entered the press room for the customary post-game interview.
“Lumuhod talaga ako,” he said. “Nagpasalamat talaga ako.”
“Hindi naman ako ‘yung masyadong relihiyosong tao pero pinagdasal ko kasi ito talaga,” he continued.
Down by a set, Ateneo never looked back shortly after winning the second set.
And as the Blue Eagles dominated the final set, Almadro knew his prayers had been answered.
Although the Katipunan-based squad gave away 38 points to NU from its errors, Finals MVP Ish Polvorosa saved the day for Ateneo by giving the team all of its 36 excellent sets.