University of Santo Tomas
Last year’s finish: Fifth
Key losses: Pam Lastimosa, Dancel Dusaran
Key additions: Mia Dizon, Carla Sandoval, Alyssa Teope, Alina Bicar
PARADING an intact core backed by several rookies under a disciplinarian coach, University of Santo Tomas hopes to finally return in the UAAP women’s volleyball Final Four after missing out the past three seasons.
UST coach Kungfu Reyes, on his seventh month on the job, boldy declared the target is the finals.
But newly appointed team captain EJ Laure said they need to focus on the semifinals first.
“Pang-fifth kami last year, ang goal namin this year is Final Four muna then finals na if ever,” Laure told Spin.ph.
UST’s still has the core of Mela Tunay, Jessey de Leon, Ria Meneses, Cherry Rondina and Laure, but the Tigresses will be without Pam Lastimosa, last year’s skipper, who will miss the entire season due to an Anterior Cruciate Ligament tear on her left knee.
The Tigresses have acquired libero Mia Dizon from De La Salle Zobel, open spiker Carla Sandoval from Angelicum College, and setters Alyssa Teope out of UST high school and Alina Bicar from Tacloban.
Laure, tapped new leader after earning Rookie of the Year honors last season, is very familiar with Reyes’ style having played under the strict coach in high school. But it took a while for the rest of the Tigresses to get adjusted.
“Noong una nagulat sila na sigaw nang sigaw,” said Laure of Reyes, who took over from Odjie Mamon.
“Pero time passed by naging ok naman, nagkaka-bonding naman na kami kay coach.”
Filling the opposite and open spikers positions are Laure, Rondina, Sandoval, Tunay, Rica Rivera and Chloe Cortez.
Rookie setters Teope and Bicar will back up veteran playmaker Alex Cabanos.
Former spiker Ingrid Reyes, back after a two-year hiatus, will replace Dancel Dusaran as libero along with Dizon.
Playing the middle position are De Leon, Meneses and Christine Francisco.
UST will start its campaign on February 3 against Adamson.