MANILA — It was a sunny Wednesday afternoon at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan when the Ateneo Lady Eagles and the UE Lady Warriors battled it out on the taraflex court.

The ladies in blue and white started to create distance from their opponents early in the first set, but the Lady Warriors turned to their relentless net defense to even out the match. Ateneo’s rookie Kat Tolentino stopped the bleeding for her team when she hit a powerful cross-court shot to earn a one point advantage for the Lady Eagles, 14-13.

                                                        (Photo by Alex Alferez/Sports Gateway PH)

Then there she was — Ateneo’s running attack specialist Maddie Madayag on the service deck to start the next rally. With her loaded serves, including two service aces, and reliable floor defense to cover Ateneo’s spikers, the Lady Eagles built a nine point lead to pull away from the Lady Warriors, 23-13.

Their supporters made sure they were loud enough to be heard as they cheered for the towering Ateneo junior. Aside from her inspired performance all throughout the match, one thing did not go unnoticed. Madayag played arguably her breakthrough performance in UAAP Season 79 yet.

As she launched her lethal serves and glided through the court for her running attacks, she added fire power to the Lady Eagles’ already unpredictable offense with nine markers, including all of Ateneo’s three block points against the Lady Warriors.

(Photo by Chuckie Vitto/Sports Gateway PH)
(Photo by Chuckie Vitto/Sports Gateway PH)

It was almost a year ago when news broke out that Madayag suffered an season-ending ACL injury on her right knee during practice, yet no traces of this roadblock seemed to be apparent in their match against UE.

Ever since the season started, the Davao native has been a constant threat to Ateneo’s opponents. One of the people who acknowledged her good performance is teammate Michelle Morente. “Sobrang happy ako for Maddie. From ACL tapos ngayon ang ganda na ng nilalaro niya.”

But Madayag was quick to deflect the spotlight. Instead, she gave credit to the quality of training she and her teammates routinely undergo behind all the cameras.

“We show it in training. We work hard for it naman kasi sa training, walang relaxed sa amin para we can show it in the game,” said Madayag.

This, Morente actually corroborated, “She pushes herself naman sa training. Pinapakita niya sa aming lahat na deserve niya maglaro sa first six.”

“I’m proud of her kasi even though na-ACL siya, sobrang taas pa rin ng confidence niya,” the energetic Lady Eagle ended.

With the volley belles from Katipunan scheduled to face two powerhouse teams in UP and La Salle before the end of their first round campaign of the season, the Lady Eagles will surely need Madayag’s consistent play both on the offensive and defensive end to continue their rise.