The game is on the line and Ateneo de Manila is looking for a hero.
It was Game 1 of this crucial UAAP women’s volleyball finals series against bitter rival De La Salle.
The Lady Eagles tried going to star player Alyssa Valdez for offensive muscle, but she was well-covered by a troop of blockers hounding her like wolves guarding their prey.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, out of Ateneo’s wildest imagination, a spiker emerged.
She took off with a powerful approach before unleashing a rock-solid kill that went down the line, leaving the Lady Spikers stunned and the sea of blue erupting in wild celebration.
Ateneo faithfuls finally found their new hero.
Her name is Jhoanna Maraguinot.
From Alitagtag to Ateneo
It never crossed Maraguinot’s mind to become a star.
Her mother – Lovelia Agno – is a former Adamson stalwart and told her that being an athlete is no easy task. It takes a lot of guts, a lot of pains, and a lot of sacrifices to become a star, especially in a major program like Ateneo.
[quote cite=’Jhoanna Maraguinot, open spiker (Ateneo)’]“At first, she doesn’t want me to play because she knows that it will be difficult. She said being an athlete is never easy.”
“But eventually, I learned to love the sport. And now, I’m starting to enjoy it.”[/quote]
Maraguinot grew up in the humble town of Alitagtag in Batangas, but got recruited to play in a big school in De La Salle-Lipa in elementary and high school.
From Lipa, she would take a 30-minute ride going back to their house in Alitagtag daily following a grueling training in a bid to pursue her goal of becoming the best.
[quote]“The teachers in La Salle encouraged me to play after seeing some potential in me. So from Lipa, I go back to Alitagtag daily after training because that’s where we live.”[/quote]
Ateneo’s next star
Shortly after leaving La Salle-Lipa, Maraguinot was spotted by former Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb and was given an invite to join the team – a high-profile team bannered by fellow Batanguena in Valdez.
Maraguinot said she did nothing spectacular but to work hard and become the best she could be. Never mind if observers brand her as the next Alyssa Valdez – the only important thing is to be the best and gain the trust of her coach, Tai Bundit.
[quote]“It’s overwhelming. I didn’t expect that all my sacrifices will pay off.”[/quote]
But when asked if she thinks she can fill the shoes set to be left by Valdez, Maraguinot simply brushed it off.
[quote]“Charing lang yun (They’re just kidding).”[/quote]
Yes, Maraguinot may be ready to become Ateneo’s next most important star. Her performance speaks for itself.
But before she can formally assume the throne, she has a pressing mission to accomplish: essay a fitting ending to Ateneo’s fairy tale campaign by clinching the title against powerhouse La Salle.