After a dramatic finish in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Season 78 elimination rounds, fans all over the country are all fired up as the 4 best squads in collegiate volleyball take center stage.
With the Ateneo Lady Eagles and La Salle Lady Spikers both having secured their Final 4 slots, the FEU Lady Tamaraws, UP Lady Maroons, and NU Lady Bulldogs raced to earn the last two. During a crucial period where every win mattered more than ever, it was the squads from FEU and UP that stepped up and played big to round up the Final 4.
This season has taken their fans on a roller coaster ride where absolutely anything can happen. Now that the dust have settled, the 4 teams and their legions of fans brace themselves as the competition heats up and gets more serious as they compete to get a shot at the UAAP Women’s Volleyball championship. To kick off the highly-anticipated playoffs, PlayPH reviews what fans should watch out for in each squad.
Last season, the Lady Eagles made history by recording a flawless record en route to their back-to-back championship. That may no longer be the case this season after finishing the qualifying stages with a 12-2 record but, the defending champions have shown that they are still the team to beat.
This season will also be the last for Lady Eagles’ captain and reigning league MVP Alyssa Valdez and everyone is anticipating that she would give her absolute best to end her collegiate career on a high note. However, even before Valdez leaves the team, the Lady Eagles are already featuring a much improved ball rotation especially with a new potent attacker with star potential on the team – sophomore player Jho Maraguinot.
Despite the departure of their star libero Denden Lazaro and another upcoming sophomore Maddie Madayag (ACL injury), the Lady Eagles have shown that they still have excellent players other than Valdez such as Amy Ahimiro and Bea De Leon to help them in their quest to capture their third straight UAAP Women’s Volleyball crown.
The team that competed against Ateneo for last year’s title, the La Salle Lady Spikers, showed up this season with more fire and spirit. Like their archrivals in blue, the Lady Spikers entered the Final 4 with a twice-to-beat advantage. La Salle has all the ingredients to dethrone the defending champions but what could serve as key to make it happen lies within themselves – confidence.
The Lady Spikers are loaded with talented attackers such as Mika Reyes, Ara Galang, and Kim Dy including an excellent setter in team captain Kim Fajardo. In addition, Dawn Macandili has shown to be a reliable libero for the squad by effectively receiving attacks and turning them into opportunities for her team. They have been consistent for most part of the season and have shown great chemistry on the court. Now, it’s up to them to use their winning formula to lead them back into the finals.
Certainly, the FEU Lady Tamaraws is a squad that has the potential to surprise. Their dynamic attackers of Bernadeth Pons, Toni Rose Basas, and Jerrili Malabanan has been on a tear lately proving capable of posing an immediate threat. In addition, their squad also has bonafide veteran Gyzelle Sy who is the league’s former best setter to facilitate their sets. Sy has also shown great instincts in receiving the ball making her a vital cog in their defense.
Similar to La Salle, the Lady Tamaraws are also excellent when it comes to receiving the ball thanks to their talented liberos Ria Duremdes and Kyla Atienza. Most people never expected this young core to reach this far but with more consistency and sharper focus, this squad’s future is certainly a bright one.
The UP Lady Maroons came up clutch to get into the Final 4 and just by looking at what the squad has done throughout the season, you cant help but notice their raw potential. The Lady Maroons have been one of the most balanced squads in the league with both offense and defense clicking when it mattered most.
Coming into the season, coach Jerry Yee of the UP Lady Maroon’s squad featured what can be considered as the best batch of recruits led by rookie sensations Isa Molde, Diana Carlos, and Justine Dorog. They also have bonafide veterans Nicole Tiamzon and Kathy Bersola to provide much needed leadership to their young core. Each player in the Lady Maroons’ roster have proven that they are capable leading their squad to get the win. With the Final 4 competitions set to begin soon, all they need to do is find a way to be consistent in maximizing each other’s strengths to get them to the next level.