Second-year head coach Oliver Almadro will have the services of veterans Kat Tolentino and Jho Maraguinot for their UAAP women's volleyball title defense this coming Season 82 Cagadas
Ateneo's Almadro lauds return of key players for title defense
Rick Olivares ( - January 29, 2020 - 11:55am

MANILA, Philippines — And just like that Oliver Almadro’s second year at the helm of the Ateneo Lady Eagles volleyball team got a huge boost with the return of two key players over the last several years.

Jho Maraguinot returned to the line-up after seemingly foregone her final playing year last season. Kat Tolentino also returned after what was a glorious ride into the sunset with Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag after leading Ateneo to its third UAAP Women’s title in the last six years. 

Their return along with Jamie Lavitoria for one final run more than makes up for the loss of setter Deanna Wong to injury. Besides, they will have Jho’s younger sister, Jaja, who played well in her rookie year last campaign, to set the way.

Their return means that rookie sensation Faith Nisperos won’t have all that pressure to deal with as their firepower will spread all around.

Almadro himself equal parts relieved and giddy with his team’s chances of defending the crown. After all, they now look stacked and loaded.

“I’m so happy that Jho, Kat, and Jamie returned to play their last year,” glowed the multi-titled coach who has steered both the Ateneo men’s and women’s volleyball teams to championships.

“Jho is in shape physically, mentally, and emotionally. She is inspired to do good and play better this season. Although she has to learn the system fast, she has shown a willingness to grasp it while serving as the ‘ate’ of the team,” he said.

Further elucidated the Ateneo coach, “Kat’s return is a big boost to us. With her and Jho, our team would be mostly made up of rookies and sophomores. Even if she is the only one left of our Triple Towers (de Leon and Madayag being the other two), I believe that she will contribute a lot in terms of points, and team stability not to mention confidence,” he added.

Lavitoria on the other hand has seen action over the years in a variety of roles but mostly playing libero. Rookie Joan Narit has gamely patrolled the middle. At six-foot-one, she is envisioned to reprised the wall and idle attack that de Leon and Madayag provided during their college careers. 

Almadro was also quick to point out the sacrifice of the daily grind of the returnees. “I admire their sacrifice by giving a huge effort day in and day out.”

In the pre-UAAP tournaments, Nisperos has greatly impressed in leadership and scoring with support coming from Ponggay Gaston, Erika Raagas, Jules Samonte,Dani Ravena, and Vanessa Gandler. Jaycel delos Reyes and Roma Mae Doromal look to play key roles off the bench. Having the elder Maraguinot and Tolentino back in harness gives the Lady Eagles more options and depth.

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