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Blue Eagles coach tempers Final Four expectations amid momentum

MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo Blue Eagles head coach Sergio Veloso is not getting ahead of himself as his team is slowly showing its form in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament.

Following up their gallant five-set stand against the UST Golden Tigresses, Ateneo came out with inspired play against the UP Fighting Maroons — taking a quick three-set victory to improve their record to 3-6, with still a lot of volleyball left in the year.

With the Katipunan-based squad slowly but surely creeping into the Final Four conversation, Veloso is sticking to his one-game-at-a-time mindset.

“We need to think match-by-match. [We should] not only put our focus on the Final Four because each point is important, each set is important. Today, we got the three points,” Veloso said, pertaining to the sweep versus UP.

“We won in the first round [against] UP but 3-2, so only two points… This one point here and one point there, when you win one more, when you lose one more, it can make the difference in the rankings.”

Even in their loss to UST, Veloso’s Blue Eagles actually snagged one point in that contest, meaning that they gained valuable ground if ever the Final Four comes down to points in the tiebreak.

Thinking about the season per individual matches, according to Veloso, will eventually lead them to their goal.

“Our target now, we need to think for the next match. Because if you do a good job match-by-match, you have a good chance to go for the Final Four,” he said.

But the Brazilian coach is also paying attention to the long term.

“I know it’s hard because of the distance [in the standings] to FEU in fourth position. But we have two targets — a short target now for this season, we need to do our best here. And in the program, the program is a long-term [target],” he said.

Veloso’s Blue Eagles’ will take their next step for the season when they face the FEU Lady Tamaraws after the Holy Week break, on Thursday, April 4.