[Editor's note: This is the third installment of our eight-part preview for the coming UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament]
Last Season: 7th Place (4-10)
Key Holdovers: Sisi Rondina, Milena Alessandrini, Dimdim Pacres, Alina Bicar
Departures: Shannen Palec
Injury List: Ej Laure (Shoulder), Tin Francisco (ACL)
Newcomers: Eya Laure, KC Galdones, Ysa Jimenez
Head Coach: Kungfu Reyes (4th Season)
UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas is setting an ambitious goal of making a big jump from out of the playoff spots to champion in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
The Tigresses bank on graduating Sisi Rondina and girls volleyball star Eya Laure as they try to regain their place among the league's elite teams.
Milena Alessandrini, last year’s top rookie, is also expected to deliver for the Tigresses, who are coming off a four-win season, the school’s worst record in the Final Four era.
“Goal ko na isa ako sa magpapabalik ng championship ng UST,” Tigresses’ skipper Rondina said. “Ang maipapangako ko, I will always fight for UST. Kahit ano na buwis buhay. For UST gagawin ko talaga lahat.”
UST can also count on seniors Dimdim Pacres, Caitlyn Viray and Alina Bicar.
Two other rookies, KC Galdones and Ysa Jimenez, are also suiting up, but Laure is most familiar with the Tigresses’ system, having trained under Kungfu Reyes since grade school.
“Iba si Eya eh, kumbaga starting pa lang siya, nag-go-grow as a leader na talaga siya,” Rondina said.
“Si Eya din ‘yung isa sa mga inaasahan ko. Kasi nag-usap na kami niyan, ‘yung narinig ko lang talaga sa kanya is to fight for UST.”
Laure had been touted as ready for UAAP women’s play as early as two years ago, but the K12 academic program kept her from joining the Tigresses.
Now she is raring to go.
“Itong rookie year ko siguro sa tagal kong naghintay na makalaro dito sa collegiate sobrang hungry ko na kumbaga makatulong sa UST and sa team,” she said.
“Every game papakita ko talaga kung paano ako maglaro, kung ano ‘yung mga pwede kong itulong sa team.”
It is Reyes’ firm belief that this is the Tigresses’ year despite the recent struggles.
“Battle cry namin ‘this time kami naman, kami naman ngayong taon na to,’” Reyes said.
“Wala ka nang pwedeng gawin kundi tanggapin move forward ganun na lang ginagawa namin para umangat ulit ngayong season na ‘to.”
UST begins its campaign against Adamson on Feb. 17 at the Mall of Asia Arena.