Expect an all-out war in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament as all teams level up their training including the Ateneo Lady Eagles who are aiming to reclaim the crown.
The Lady Eagles will be going to Thailand and Japan for series of training camps as part of their build up as Thai coach Tai Bundit gunning to bring the crown back to the Katipunan-based squad this season.
Led by three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player (MVP) Alyssa Valdez, Ateneo lost to De La Salle University in the best-of-three championship series via a 1-2 decision.
Valdez, however, won’t be around this time after completing her five-year playing eligibility with the Lady Eagles, leaving the scoring cudgels to veteran open hitters Jhoana Maraguinot and Ana Gopico, opposite spiker Michelle Morente, middle blocker Maddie Madayag and setter Julia Morado.
National University and University of the Philippines also went to Japan for training while Adamson University hired an American coach and a number of local volleyball stars to handle the team.
The Lady Bulldogs will be bannered by towering Jaja Santiago, who recently won the Season MVP award in the Philippine Superliga Grand Prix where her Foton Tornadoes completed a back-to-back rampage.
Backing up the 6-foot-5 Santiago are veteran campaigners Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas – both members of the Laoag Power Smashers in the Shakey’s V-League Reinforced Conference – as well as vastly-improved setter Jasmin Nabor and utility hitter Roma Doromal.
UP has the most solid lineup this season as Katherine Bersola, Isa Molde, Diana Carlos, Marian Buitre and Nicole Tiamzon are back in the team while Adamson will parade a new squad led by power-hitting Gema Galanza.
University of Santo Tomas is also a force to reckon with as top Tigresses Ennajie Laure and Cherry Ann Rondina showed a lot of improvement following their stints in the Philippine Superliga and Asian Women’s Club Championship.
La Salle, on the other hand, lost key players Mika Reyes, Ara Galang and Cyd Demecillo but the Lady Spikers remained deadly behind middle blocker Mary Joy Baron, opposite Kim KIana Dy, wing spiker Tin Tiamzon, libero Dawn Macandili and prolific playmaker Kim Fajardo.