Kat Tolentino’s return has made Ateneo a stronger squad for the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
But coach Oliver Almadro is also pinning his hopes on a rookie who he thinks is “God’s gift to Ateneo.”
Almadro told the Inquirer that Faith Nisperos has what it takes to create her own niche in the Lady Eagles’ rich tradition and hopes the former National U high school star will get to spread her wings whenever the season—postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak—will finally resume.
“A lot of players left the team [because of graduation] so for me, and I always say this, Faith is God’s gift to the Ateneo volleyball program,” Almadro said in Filipino.
Ateneo has had some memorable eras in the past two decades, starting with the Charo Soriano teams, to the Fab 5 period with Gretchen Ho and Fille Cainglet-Cayetano at the helm. Alyssa Valdez later ruled the Lady Eagles’ nest. Almadro thinks Nisperos will continue that tradition.
“When I was recruiting her, I just told her that what I can offer is the standard of excellence in Ateneo and that she’d be the one to continue the legacy that Charo started,” Almadro said.
“There was the Fab 5 era, then Alyssa-Jia [Morado], then Bea [De Leon]-Maddie [Madayag], and after all of that I told her ‘continue the legacy those guys built.’”
It’s pressure for a young rookie, but she will have lots of help with Tolentino’s return for a fifth and final year.
“For the team this year, my expectation is that we’ll definitely make the finals and our main goal is of course the championship,” said Tolentino. “I truly believe we can get it this year.”
Tolentino had earlier said she will skip her final year of eligibility after Ateneo won last season’s crown against University of Santo Tomas.
It took nearly seven months before Tolentino ultimately told her team that she’d be back to gun for another championship.