ATENEO starts its title retention bid as the Lady Eagles face National University on opening day of the UAAP women's volleyball tournament on Saturday at the MOA Arena.
With Mich Morente and setter Jia Morado and veterans Amy Ahomiro and libero Denden Lazaro helping Alyssa Valdez, the Katipunan-based Lady Eagles rose to the top last season and now eye back-to-back titles with the same formula.
“Hindi naman talaga Alyssa Valdez-team,” insisted Valdez, the Ateneo skipper.
The Lady Eagles and Lady Bulldogs clash at 4 p.m.
Ateneo Lady Eagles looking up while staying grounded at the same time
“Honestly hindi talaga ako. Kung hindi naman si Jia walang magse-set sa akin, kung wala si Den walang magdi-dig, kung wala ’yung ibang players walang dedepensa. May kanya-kanyang roles ang bawat isa sa team. I’m just privileged na sa akin nata-timing.”
“Nasa little things na nagagawa ng teammates ko ’yun talaga. ’Yun ang nakabuo para magtuloy tuloy last year,” added the 21-year old pride of San Juan, Batangas.
Now without NU’s top hitters Dindin Santiago and Mina Aganon and libero Jen Reyes, the Lady Bulldogs now will have to rely on Dindin’s younger sister Jaja, lasy year’s top rookie. Focus will also be on Rizza Mandapat, who stepped up after Aiko Urdas suffered an ACL injury last year.
National University facing tall order with twin towers down to just one
NU assistant coach Edjet Mabbayad admitted it will be a little tough young Jaja trying to carry the Lady Bulldogs, buy noted that there are other scoring options.
“May iba pa naming spikers gaya ni Mandapat so may options pa ang setter,” said Mabbayad.
University of Santo Tomas squares off with University of the East in the 2 p.m. match.
The Tigresses bannered by skipper Pam Lastimosa, Mela Tunay, Jessey de Leon and Ria Meneses got an added boost from prized rookie EJ Laure, Cherry Rondina, Mary Pacres, Alyssa Alterado and setter Sarah Verutiao as they try to return to the Final Four after a two-year absence.
All eyes on EJ Laure as UST Tigresses try to reclaim lost glory
“We underachieved last year, hopefully this year makabawi kami. I think we will be the shortest line up this year but for me that will be our advantage kasi magiging mas mabillis kami,” said UST mentor Odjie Mamon.
UE, on the other hand, will try to make an impact at the start of the season with former UST high school coach Francis Vicente calling the shots.