Angeli Araneta looked on from the sidelines during the dying end of the third set as the Lady Bulldogs came down hard and closed the match against the Lady Maroons. She watched helplessly as her team crumbled, loosing the game and bid their hopes for a final four finish goodbye. What if Kathy wasn’t sidelined by an ACL injury? What if Nicole scored more? What else could she have done? People could only guess what was going through Araneta’s mind. The former captain only scored 4 points, a far cry from her outstanding performance throughout the season. Season 77 was not a total loss for Araneta, who came back to use her fifth playing year after her team mates and UP fans campaigned for #OneMoreYearNeta. Having been one of UP’s formidable wing attackers, Araneta was converted to middle blocker as she returned for her final tour of duty with the Lady Maroons. Often criticized for her drops and soft taps, she would timely show off her strong and quick middle hits, which made believers out of her critics and turned skeptics into fans.
It was a no bearing game for the NU who was secured in 3rd spot of the team standing; while the Lady Maroons where in tightly contested race for fourth place. UST, Adamson, FEU and UP were all locked in for the 4th-7th spot. Despite the loss of Bersola, UP remained in the thick of the fight with Tiamzon and Araneta leading the way. A win against NU would bring them to the Final Four, which had not happened for decades. But the taller, hard hitting Lady Bulldogs spoiled the chance for the Lady Maroons, limiting Tiamzon and company to single digit scoring… and ended Season 77 for the Diliman squad.
UP’s date with destiny, wasn’t going to happen today. The Lady Maroons was bowing out of the race at 6th place… a notch higher than last year… and with three more wins than the previous season. It was back to the drawing board for Coach Jerry and his girls.
But for Araneta, it was time to hang her maroon and white jersey… and move on to bigger things.