UNIVERSITY of the East coach Francis Vicente kept a modest goal in plotting the Lady Warriors’ rise from the cellar in the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament.
The Lady Warriors only won one game last year, and the veteran mentor and now national team coach is aware his squad is far from turning into a Final Four contender in just one season.
“UE, wag naman nila asahan na Final Four, malabo ‘yun,” said Vicente, who pins his hopes for progress on more exposure in other leagues.
“Ang ano lang eh tulungan ng mga liga sa labas na maimbita sila ma-expose,” he added.
The Lady Warriors, though, have made some progress after the UAAP season last year in finishing fourth in the 2016 Unigames and third in the Intercollegiate tournament. Key players like skipper Shaya Adorador, Kath Arado, Judith Abil and Roselle Baliton have also battled top competition in commercial leagues to gain valuable experience.
Adorador and Arado suited up for Generika in the Philippine Super Liga, while Baliton joined Pocari Sweat in the Shakey’s V-League Season 13.
Still, Vicente considers his team as a young squad competing against the battle-tested UAAP powerhouse teams.
“‘Yung team ko pwedeng sabihing hilaw,” he said.
However, the multi-titled coach aiming on developing not just the skills of his wards but also on instilling the right attitude his players need to hang with the top teams in the UAAP.
“UAAP is different from other leagues,” he said. “Labanan ng respeto ng eskwelahan ‘yan. Hopefully naituro mo sa kanila na bigyan pride ang school and ‘yun magiging inspiration nila para umangat.”
The Lady Warriors coach believes his team needs one more year to possibly enter the ranks of contenders, but he has his eyes on one team who can give the top squads a run for their money.
“Ano ‘yan, UP ‘yan, seryoso si Jerry (Yee) eh,” he said. “I cannot say kami ang darkhorse, ‘di pa eh it’s not yet the right year. Siguro by next year pwede na ako magyabang, pwede ko na sabihin na pwede kami umabot ng Final Four next year.”
UE will have National University as its first assignment in the UAAP on February 4 at the Araneta Coliseum.