May 29, 2024

UAAP: Lucille Almonte ends Season 86 campaign with a grateful heart despite Adamson's early exit

UAAP: Lucille Almonte ends Season 86 campaign with a grateful heart despite Adamson
Lucille Almonte pours heart out for Adamson. | Photo (c) RM Chua/One Sports

After taking flight as an Adamson Lady Falcon for what could be the final time on Wednesday, Lucille Almonte had tears in her eyes and a heart full of gratitude.


Almonte and the Lady Falcons endured a straight-set loss to the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 25-13, 25-17, 25-21, in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament. It was a disappointing conclusion to a campaign filled with struggles and setbacks.


Still, after Almonte sang the school’s hymn and huddled with her teammates for a farewell moment, she felt a surge of gratitude that outweighed the pain.


“Ayun sobrang grateful ako kasi walang major injuries sa amin. Natapos namin ‘yung season na buo pa rin kami,” said Almonte.


“Despite everything nga, thankful ako sa coaches namin, sila Coach [JP] Yude kasi hindi sila nagsawang mag remind sa amin na ilaban talaga namin kasi all of us lumalaban talaga. Sobrang happy ng heart ko ngayon na natapos kami na safe ang lahat.”


Almonte remains tight-lipped about her future plans, emphasizing that earning her diploma is her immediate priority. 


Despite the uncertainty, whether she goes pro or returns for another year, her collegiate career has been a journey marked by both highs and lows.


It all started with a championship in the 2019 PVL Collegiate Conference, where Almonte served as an integral cog for the Lady Falcons, fueling expectations for a standout rookie season in the UAAP Season 82.


However, fate had other plans. Even before the season started, Almonte suffered a torn ACL in her left leg, abruptly ending her debut year before it even began. The COVID-19 pandemic then cut Season 82 short, and the subsequent Season 83 was canceled entirely. 


While the pause in competition was a blow to many athletes, it provided Almonte with an unexpected silver lining—the time and space to focus on her recovery and rehabilitation without the looming pressure of returning to play.


Season 84 finally gave Almonte a chance to showcase her skills on the court. Despite the hiatus, she helped Adamson University achieve a solid fifth-place finish with an 8-6 record. Season 85 then marked a significant turnaround for the Lady Falcons, who reached third place with a 10-4 record, their best finish in years.


However, Almonte faced another challenge soon after. The core players of Adamson in Trisha Tubu, Kate Santiago, and Louie Romero, among others, decided to turn pro, leaving the team in a state of rebuilding. Seasoned mentor Jerry Yee also left the fold at that time.


The Lady Falcons would then hit another snag weeks before Season 86, after Lorene Torene decided to forego her final playing year due to an ACL injury she incurred in January.

 

[RELATED: Cultivating for the future: Lorene Toring heads to PVL with Farm Fresh]


Despite the unexpected turn of events, Almonte embraced the mantle of captaincy, even leading the team to a title in the 2024 Akari Invitation Cup.


Come Season 86, Almonte did everything she could to guide Adamson through such a difficult period. However, the team fell short of expectations, finishing with a 3-11 record.


Nevertheless, Almonte feels nothing but gratitude.


“I’m so grateful talaga kasi palaging sinasabi ni Coach [JP Yude] sa amin na despite everything na nangyari sa team, ang daming challenges talaga,” Almonte said. “I’m so thankful and grateful sa teammates ko na nag stay kasi nakita talaga ng mga tao na lumaban kami hanggang dulo.”


Almonte then expressed further appreciation for her fellow seniors Karen Verdeflor and Nikka Yandoc. 


“Sa seniors na nag-stay, sobrang happy din ako kasi rebuilding kami, hindi madali sa amin ‘yung mga challenges na nangyari. Despite everything nga, nag-stay pa rin kami,” she said.


Almonte wishes nothing but the best for the Lady Falcons, hoping that the disappointing outcome of this season would become a valuable lesson for the team as they look ahead to the next.


“Hopefully in the next season, kung ano ‘yung na-gain naming experience ngayon at ‘yung opportunities na binigay sa amin, sana next season ‘yun ‘yung maipakita namin.”