The University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament will open on February 4 with four teams plunging into action at the Araneta Coliseum.
Seeing action on the opening day are title contender National University and University of the East at 2 p.m. followed by last year’s runner-up Ateneo de Manila University and University of Santo Tomas at 4 p.m.
On February 5, defending champion De La Salle University opens its back-to-back bid against powerhouse Far Eastern University at 4 p.m., after the tussle between another favorite University of the Philippines and Adamson University.
The Lady Spikers have lost key players Mika Reyes, former season Most Valuable Player (MVP) and Rookie of the Year awardee Ara Galang and Cydthealee Demecillo, who already completed their five-year playing eligibility.
But La Salle remains formidable with holdovers Kim Fajardo, Mary Joy Baron, Dawn Macandili and Season 78 Finals MVP Kim Kianna Dy leading the charge.
They all gained valuable experience playing in the Philippine Superliga (PSL) as well as in different national collegiate tournaments.
Fajardo saw action in the 2016 FIVB Women’s Club World Championship together with six other local players and seven foreign reinforcements while Macandili was named as the PSL All-Filipino Conference MVP – the first libero in the country that earned the coveted award.
However, the road to their second straight title and 10th overall won’t be easy this time as all teams have beefed up their lineups and went abroad for series of training camps.
The Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Maroons and the Lady Eagles had training and tuneup games in Japan while the Tigresses having veterans EJ Laure, Cherry Ann Rondina, Ria Meneses and Chloe Cortez, and the Lady Tamaraws bannered by Bernadeth Pons, Remy Palma, Toni Basas and Jerrili Malabanan, remain intact this season.
Adamson, for its part, hired an American coach and a number of local volleyball stars in the coaching staff including former Pocari Sweat team captain Michele Gumabao and Shakey’s V-League MVP Cherry Rose Macatangay while UE has Francis Vicente, who got appointed as the national women’s team head coach recently.