MANILA - With the world still in turmoil over the COVID-19 pandemic, the seniors of the Ateneo de Manila University women's volleyball team believe it is too early to even think about how they will deal with the next UAAP season.
The UAAP decided earlier this month to cancel the rest of Season 82, putting an abrupt end to the Lady Eagles' quest to defend their crown. It was an especially disappointing development to Kat Tolentino, Jamie Lavitoria, and Jhoana Maraguinot, who all decided to return for what would have been their final playing year.
"It's hard for us, it's very hard for us, not just volleyball but all second semester sports," Lavitoria told ABS-CBN News.
Ateneo managed to play just two games, sweeping University of the Philippines before losing to De La Salle University in four sets. Some sports -- including softball and women's football -- were not even given a chance to start before the season was terminated.
"What hurt me the most is the preparation that we had for it, the nine months of the hard work and sleepless nights, all those things, the struggles that we went through, the journey," Lavitoria explained.
"When you look at all of this, yeah the destination is becoming back-to-back (champions), but you look at the journey throughout the process to get there," she added.
Lavitoria last played for Ateneo in Season 79, while Maraguinot skipped Season 81. Tolentino was a major factor in the Lady Eagles' run to the title last year, after which she decided to forego her final season. The Fil-Canadian standout changed her mind, however, and the three "super seniors" all suited up for the Blue and White in their abbreviated campaign.
Lavitoria, who is currently in San Francisco, California, says they remain in contact with their team through weekly Zoom meetings. However, any talks about Season 83 is premature.
"I talked about it with a few of my teammates, about the eligibility (issue)," she said. "And for us, it's too early to even discuss about it. It's so far from now."
"And there are so many things that are happening in the world right now, that we're not really focused on UAAP and the eligibility right now," she explained.
Lavitoria's sentiments echoed those of Tolentino, who previously said that she will not make a decision so soon after the official cancellation of the season.
"It's hard to predict what will happen for next year, since we are still dealing with the pandemic and other global issues," Tolentino said. "For now, I am just praying that we overcome this and continue to keep healthy and safe always."
It remains to be seen how the UAAP will tweak its eligibility rules after what happened in Season 82. As it stands, players must be below 25 years old as of July 31 to qualify for that season.
In its memo making the cancellation of the season official, the UAAP said that "all other issues… will be resolved at the proper time."
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).