Four teams led by title contenders National University and Ateneo de Manila University aim to start their campaigns on a high note when the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament begins today at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Bulldogs take on University of the East at 2 p.m. while the Lady Eagles battle University of Santo Tomas at 4 p.m.
Middle blocker Jaja Santiago will spearhead the Lady Bulldogs along with Filipino-Japanese middle hitter Risa Sato, open spikers Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas, utility Roma Doromal and setter Jasmine Nabor.
The 6-foot-5 Santiago powered the Lady Bulldogs to another title in the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference last year. She was also part of import-laden Foton squad that ruled 2016 Philippine Superliga Reinforced Conference.
Besides those championships, Santiago gained experience competing in theAVC Asian Volleyball Championship and FIVB Women’s Club World Championship hosted by the Philippines last year.
For its part, UE has team captain Shaya Adorador in the front line along with Roselle Baliton, Judith Abil, Meann Mendrez, Jana Sta. Ana and libero Kat Arado as they aim to improve their 1-13 record last season.
On the other hand, Lady Eagles lost key players Alyssa Valdez, a three-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) awardee, and Amy Ahomiro, a Finals MVP.
But Ateneo remains dangerous with Jhoana Maraguinot, Bea De Leon, Ana Gopico, Kim Gequillana and Julia Morado leading the team along with Maddie Madayag, Kat Tolentino and comebacking Michelle Morente.
The Tigresses also have a strong lineup this year.
Open hitters EJ Laure and Cherry Ann Rondina – both members of the Foton champion team in Superliga – opposite hitter Chloe Cortez and middle blocker Ria Meneses will banner the squad together with Pam Lastimosa, who missed the entire Season 78 due to injury, and Alex Cabanos, Dimdim Pacres, Carla Sandoval and Shannen Palec.
On Sunday, De La Salle University starts its title-retention bid against Far Eastern University at 4 p.m. while Adamson University goes up against University of the Philippines at 2 p.m.
8 a.m. – NU vs UE (Men)
10 a.m. – Ateneo vs UST (Men)
2 p.m. – NU vs UE (Women)
4 p.m. – Ateneo vs UST (Women)