NEW heroes are tipped to emerge for both Far Eastern University and University of the East as the rebuilding squads clash in the opener of UAAP Season 82 volleyball tournament on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Lady Tamaraws and Lady Red Warriors collide at 4 p.m., right after the men’s edition of the ‘Battle of the East’ to formally kick off the new season.
Last year’s fourth placer FEU begins life without the troika of Jerrili Malabanan, Heather Guino-o and Kyle Negrito, on top of former Best Blocker Celine Domingo, who opted to skip her last playing year.
But Lady Tams head coach George Pascua remains defiant with his holdovers Angel Cayuna, Buding Duremdes, Jeanette Villareal, Czarina Carandang and Ivana Agudo, who are seeking to keep their squad's tag as a consistent title contender.
“Maraming nawala sa team namin pero ang difference lang nun is experience siguro. Pero skills wise andun naman, naaachieve naman namin,” Pascua said.
Lycha Ebon, whose rookie year was cut short due to a season-ending right knee injury, is also returning to action, while prized recruit Shiela Kiseo makes her UAAP debut to help the Morayta-based squad.
UE, which finished seventh last season with only three wins, also lost major pieces of their core bannered by Best Libero Kath Arado, Best Setter Laizah Bendong, do-it-all spiker Judith Abil, and skipper Roselle Baliton.
But Lady Warriors coach Karl Dimaculangan believes that his squad will continue to show vast improvement with seniors Mean Mendrez, Seth Rodriguez, Yeye Gabarda, and Zilfa Olarve as well as new setter Jel Quizon and sophomore libero Jasckin Babol.
“Siguro lahat nung senior players lalo na yung gagraduate sila yung ineexpect ko na magstep up,” Dimaculangan said. “Palagi kong sinasabi sa kanila makipag compete talaga kami. Kung last season marami kaming five sets na hindi kami nanalo siguro this time kakayanin na namin.”
Meanwhile, the men’s squads of FEU and UE raise the curtains for Season 82 at 2 p.m.
The Tamaraws remain intact for their title quest despite losing seniors RJ Paler and Richard Solis, who helped them reach the Finals last year.
FEU head coach Rei Diaz banks on the veteran troika Owen Suarez, JP Bugaoan and Jude Garcia as they try to take advantage of the youth of UE, which leans on holdovers Lloyd Josafat and Al-jhon Abalon leading a rookie-laden roster.
It is going to be a historic volleyball season as video challenge system will be implemented when the coaches want to review a certain call.
The league will also have four playdates in a week with each game day featuring an alternating schedule for men’s and women’s divisions.