There’s an image showing the Ateneo Lady Eagles’ arrival in Japan for their training camp that is floating all over social media. Wearing their matching Ateneo shirts and jackets, they smile for the camera while some are clutching their seemingly identical luggage bags. Nothing wrong about that actually for we Filipinos often post pictures to show that we are in one place.
But a closer look at the photograph can give us a hint on who might be included in Coach Oliver Almadro’s final roster for UAAP Season 81.
There’s 13 players in the snapshot and they are (from left to right): Ponggay Gaston, Kim Gequillana, Kat Tolentino, Jules Samonte, team captain Maddie Madayag, Dani Ravena, Jaycel Delos Reyes, Deanna Wong, Erika Raagas, Janel Maraguinot, Ayumi Furukawa, Vanessa Gandler, and game captain Bea De Leon. One notable player who is absent though is Samantha Fanger who did not make the trip due to personal concerns.
Fanger did show glimpses of her skill when Almadro sparingly played her during the PVL Open Conference 2018. She even had a decent game against the Creamline Cool Smashers when seniors Tolentino, Madayag, and Gaston did not suit up due to an academic immersion. The 5’11” outside hitter from Piedmont High School, California, USA makes it 14 which completes their possible roster for Season 81.
If that’s the case, will Ateneo fans have to wait another year before they see the likes of Sydney Eleazar, Mikaela Cariaso, Millicent Salvino, and Bela Peralta suit up for the main squad?
Activities during Ateneo’s training camp
The Lady Eagles will undergo a series to tune-up games and training sessions at the Kobe Shinwa Women’s University under Coach Almadro and Japanese mentor Kiyozaku Yamamoto. Mini-tournaments are also lined up for the squad. This training camp is in continuation of their pre-season preparations for UAAP Season 81 which will commence on February 16.
Ateneo’s women’s volleyball team will put extra effort during this stretch in hopes of returning to the Finals. Their streak of championship series apperances was halted at seven when the FEU Lady Tamaraws eliminated them in the semifinals of what became Coach Tai Bundit’s last year at the helm. The two-time UAAP titlists continued their honing in the Open Conference wherein they finished second to a Creamline squad featuring former Lady Eagles Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado.