Kat Tolentino forgoes final playing year for Ateneo Lady Eagles

Maddie Madayag, Bea de Leon, and Kim Gequillana are not the only ones leaving Katipunan after winning the championship against the UST Golden Tigresses.

UAAP Season 81 Best Opposite Spiker Kat Tolentino has confirmed that she will not use her final playing year during the thankgiving mass for their title at the Church of the Gesu inside the Ateneo De Manila University campus.

Those who were in attendance reacted in disbelief when Tolentino uttered “To my team, I’m gonna miss you guys” during her speech.

“I’m gonna miss the 6 am call times and the 9 pm end times. We suffered a lot, we sacrificed together a lot but now we’re champions together.”

The 6′ 1″ hitter ended her speech saying, “How blessed and thankful I am that I’m not just an athlete who had three ACL injuries. But was who can be fine by saying that I am an athlete who had three ACL injuries, one absolutely unforgettable championship, and one Ateneo family forever. This is Kat Tolentino, #10, signing off.”

This is Tolentino’s first, and apparently last, championship in the UAAP. Her collegiate volleyball career was dogged by three ACL injuries that she is now thankful for.

“I had three ACLs in three years. Normally, athletes can’t come back from that. But with every ACL injury, something great happened. My first ACL humbled me as a player and made me more grateful for my health and talent. The second ACL made me reconsider moving to the Philippines and going to Ateneo.”

“By the third ACL, I had already considered to stop playing volleyball and to be a regular student. It was to the point where I couldn’t even watch Ateneo games because I was afraid to see athletes jump and land or fall because of the fear of my injury.”

Tolentino thanks Coach Almadro

Her speech was full of thanksgiving from the Jesuit priests that helped them to her boyfriend Bacon Austria. She also thanked her family for their continuous support and her teammates for the sacrifices they endured.

“When I went back from my third ACL injury, I asked God not just to make me healthy but to be part of a team that will help me find my passion back for volleyball. This has been that team.”

But she also thanked Lady Eagles head coach Oliver Almadro for not just teaching them about the sport but also life in general. “You did not just taught us volleyball but you also instilled values into us that will continue to carry on into our futures,” Tolentino said.

“Thank you for not just being a coach but a father figure to all of us. Your love for your players and your faith, trust, and courage showed us that anything is possible with God,” she expressed.

Tolentino has been one of the constant offensive weapons for the Ateneo Lady Eagles since their stint in last year’s PVL Open Conference. She continued her steady play by becoming the UAAP’s fourth best scorer this year with 156 attacks, 32 blocks, and 12 aces. She is third in spiking efficiency with a 30.23% clip and also third in blocks with 0.63 per set.

It’s not certain yet where Tolentino will continue her volleyball journey. However, she has been fielding offers from both the Philippine Superliga and the Premier Volleyball League.

Watch the full video of Kat Tolentino’s speech here, courtesy of Get Blued: