MANILA, Philippines – Stars aligned as Ateneo Lady Eagles graduates Bea de Leon, Maddie Madayag, Kat Tolentino, and Kim Gequillana are set to join forces in debuting Premier Volleyball League (PVL) team Choco Mucho.
Since winning the UAAP Season 81 championship, the players have already expressed their desire to play together in the pros and the chance came with Rebisco's new club team.
Not to mention the bonus is that their multi-titled UAAP head coach Oliver Almadro has been tapped to mentor the team.
"It's just unfortunate that Bea, Maddie, Kat [will already graduate from the team], it’s [just] been months that I’ve coached them and I knew for myself that I can give them more. I can give them more that I can think they can bring to their future career," said Almadro in an interview with Rappler at the end of the season. (Rappler Talk Sports: Ateneo Lady Eagles on UAAP title return)
Both De Leon and Tolentino – who were present in the interview – gave hints that they wanted him to coach professionally.
"Yeah, why not?," said UAAP Season 81 Finals MVP De Leon to Almadro.
Almadro and the Lady Eagles, though, are no strangers to being contenders for the 2019 PVL Open Conference title as they entered the previous edition as Ateneo-Motolite, which was able to set up a finals series with the Alyssa Valdez-led Creamline Cool Smashers.
Choco Mucho will also be reinforced by Gyra Barroga, Marge Tejada, Bang Pineda and Erika Alkuino – all former players of the defunct United Volleyball Club –, as well as collegiate standouts Cindy Imbo of Perpetual and Carla Sandoval of University of Santo Tomas (UST).
Choco Mucho will join defending champion – and sister team – Creamline, 2019 Reinforced Conference champion PetroGazz, Pacifictown-Army, BanKo Perlas, BaliPure, Motolite and the returning Air Force.
In just one year of taking the reigns from two-time UAAP champion coach Anusorn "Tai" Bundit, Almadro managed to lead the Lady Eagles back to a championship after getting booted out of the Final Four in the previous year.
Former Ateneo captain De Leon returned for the final year of UAAP eligibility to form a lethal blockade together with Season 81 2nd Best Middle Blocker Maddie Madayag and Best Opposite Spiker Kat Tolentino.
Former hitter Gequillana, on the other hand, impressed as a libero after recovering from an ACL injury in Season 80.
After emerging as the League No.1 this season, the Ateneo Lady Eagles made it to the finals and clinched their thirrd UAAP women's volleyball title over the Sisi Rondina-led UST in 3 games. – Rappler.com