MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATED) In a massive boost to Ateneo de Manila University's upcoming title defense in UAAP women's volleyball, Kat Tolentino has decided to return to the team for her final season of eligibility.
This is an about-face for Tolentino, who said in May that she is "signing off" from the team after helping the Lady Eagles win the UAAP Season 81 championship.
On Thursday, however, Tolentino announced via ABS-CBN Sports that she will instead return to help the Lady Eagles defend their women's volleyball title.
"My decision is that I will be playing my final year, and will be joining UAAP Season 82. I definitely look forward to being back in the UAAP," Tolentino said in a Q&A session with ABS-CBN Sports on Twitter.
"The main reason why I wanted to return is just because of how great of an experience the UAAP is. The rivalry between schools and the camaraderie and the bond that you create with your team."
Tolentino said her decision "solely came from me, and it will be one that I will not regret."
"This is Kat Tolentino, signing back on. See you in February," she added.
The Fil-Canadian standout was the league's fourth-best scorer last season and third-best blocker. She also won Best Opposite Hitter honors.
Tolentino scored 15 points in Ateneo's title-clinching 25-17, 25-22, 25-22 triumph over University of Santo Tomas in Game 3 of the UAAP Season 81 Finals.
Her return is a welcome development to Ateneo, as the Lady Eagles bid goodbye to the tandem of Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag at the end of Season 81. The two middle blockers anchored the team's league-best net defense, with Madayag going on to win Second Best Middle Blocker honors at the end of the year.
It is an answered prayer for head coach Oliver Almadro, who previously said he is not losing hope that Tolentino will eventually change her mind.
"We will keep on praying that she will have the right discernment to help the team," said Almadro back in May. "And I'm sure she will be guided by the Lord to have the right direction."
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