The Ateneo Lady Eagles could have been an afterthought, but by virtue of a stirring run to the recent Premier Volleyball League Open Conference finals, it is apparent that these Lady Eagles will not go gently into the good night.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV
Be fierce, new Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro tells Lady Eagles
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - January 3, 2019 - 3:24pm

MANILA, Philippines – From “Happy Happy” to intense and fierce.

If there is anything that new Ateneo Lady Eagles head coach Oliver Almadro is bringing to the team, it is his trademark firebrand style.

The UAAP women’s volleyball tournament is a little over a month away. It promises to be an exciting and an even more competitive one with the shoring up of squads from Adamson, University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas, and an intact Far Eastern University squad to challenge defending champion La Salle.

The Ateneo Lady Eagles could have been an afterthought, but by virtue of a stirring run to the recent Premier Volleyball League Open Conference finals — where they were eventually dispatched by champion Creamline in six sets — it is apparent that these Lady Eagles will not go gently into the good night.

“I think we will be competitive,” succinctly put Almadro, who led the Ateneo men’s volleyball team to three UAAP championships and three Spiker’s Turf Collegiate crowns. “I don’t want to promise anything more. We will be competitive, that’s it.”

“I have a different system from Coach Tai (Anusorn Bundit, Ateneo’s previous women’s coach who led the team to two titles). I switched players (Kat Tolentino moved to the opposite spiker position to make way for rookie Vanessa Gandler while also tasking Ponggay Gaston to backstop the former) and am asking them to play with more power. I am not saying the previous system is wrong. It is just that I want to play a certain way.”

If the “fierce” nature may cause some to think the girls who also made a name for themselves as a smiling and happy bunch will snarl and talk trash, Almadro laughed and said that is far from the truth. 

“If people saw my men’s team, we didn’t talk trash. But we didn’t allow teams to do that as well. What it means is playing with more intensity and showing some emotion. You cannot find yourself down in the score and smile. You cannot have the other team stare you down with a block or a point. You go after them with the same,” he continued.

Play aside, one other curious change that he made during the team’s PVL stint was appointing Maddie Madayag as team captain and Bea De Leon as game captain. “Aside from her middle play, Maddie’s other strength is communicating with the team. I want her to concentrate on playing and holding the team together, while Bea, who is composed in her communications with officials, will handle the technical side.”

One other aspect that Almadro has brought over to the women’s team is their runs or jogging around Luneta that he made a ritual with the men’s team. 

“We start at point zero (the Rizal monument) then do some runs for stamina,” shared Almadro. “But with the season close, we more or less stay at home in Ateneo and the oval for those runs. But we will have one more Luneta run before the start of the season.”

Added Almadro, “I hope they get it why we run there.”

While Ateneo officials informed Almadro that he need not pressure himself or the team into winning right away, the veteran coach think that with a core that still has championship experience, they could compete.

“The girls have a lot of pride in them,” noted the coach. “This season isn’t about me. It is about them trying to show what they can do and accomplish. I am here to help them achieve that.”

ATENEO LADY EAGLES UAAP VOLLEYBALL
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