La Salle, Ateneo to clash right away in UAAP Season 81 big opening weekend

Early treat.

Fans of De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University need not to wait very long as the two fierce rivals are set to clash right away in the big opening weekend of the highly-anticipated UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball Tournament.

The four-peat seeking Lady Spikers look to start their title defense bid strong when they take on perennial foe Lady Eagles on February 17, 4 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Des Cheng, Tin Tiamzon, Mich Cobb and May Luna are expected to headline the charge for the Ramil de Jesus-mentored squad against Kat Tolentino, Bea de Leon, Maddie Madayag and Deanna Wong of Ateneo.

Kicking off the action-packed weekend is the match-up between Tots Carlos-led University of the Philippines against Kath Arado-backed University of the East at 2 p.m. on February 16, followed by the previous season’s silver medalist Far Eastern University and semifinalist National University at 4 p.m.

Both games will be held at the FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Meanwhile, serving as the opening salvo for the La Salle-Ateneo war are Adamson University and University of Sto. Tomas, who will lock horns at 2 p.m.

The first round of the tournament will run for five weeks and is expected to end on March 17.

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PH Volleyball Year-end Review Part 1: Who topped the collegiate and club ranks?

volleyball

The Philippine volleyball has been busy all year long this 2018.

Championships are won, records are broken, history is made — this year is arguably one of the most bustling years for Philippine volleyball.

After a long, exhausting yet colorful year, the Philippine volleyball is taking a well-deserved break. Like coming home to a warm bed and a warm glass of chocolate, this holiday season is sort of a vacation as the sports gear up for what 2019 has in store.

But first, let’s take a look back at the country’s top volleyball moments.

COLLEGIATE VOLLEYBALL

In the NCAA division, Arellano University defended its crown while University of Perpetual Help System DALTA (UPHSD) reclaimed the throne in the women’s and men’s tournament.

Histories were also made the in UAAP as De La Salle University Lady Spikers and National University Bulldogs emerged as champions of their respective divisions.

The Lady Spikers essayed an empathic Finals sweep to bag their third three-peat and 11th title overall against Far Eastern University, who returned to the Finals after almost a decade. The Bulldogs were also successful as they ended Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles’ reign.

It was also a good year for University of the Philippines. The Lady Maroons won the Premiere Volleyball League (PVL) Collegiate Conference and the first ever Philippine Superliga (PSL) Collegiate Grand Slam. Isa Molde and Tots Carlos were hailed MVPs of the two leagues, respectively.

In the men’s division of the collegiate conference of PVL, NU swept University of Sto. Tomas with Finals MVP Bryan Bagunas leading the way.

The UST volleyball programs also thrived as they championed both the men’s and women’s division of the the UAAP Season 81 Beach Volleyball tournament and the Unigames 2018 in Dumaguete City.

CLUB RANKS

PSL

PSL saw Petron and F2 Logistics build and solidify their dynasty as they clashed for five straight conferences dating back to the All Filipino Conference 2017. It was the longest club rivalry in the PSL and arguably in the history of Philippine volleyball.

The Blaze Spikers edged out the Cargo Movers in three games in the Grand Prix for its second import-flavored conference title. It was F2 Logistics turn at the top in the Invitationals Cup, before Petron outmuscled them in the season-ending All Filipino Conference.

Ateneo’s Jho Maraguinot and Fil-Am spiker Kalei Mau debuted in the PSL for Sta. Lucia and Cocolife, respectively, while coach Roger Gorayeb, Gretchel Soltones, and Tatan Pantone returned to the league for Smart.

The Creamline Cool Smashers were victorious in the PVL Reinforced Conference and PVL Open Conference. Retooling for this year, the Cool Smashers bagged their first two titles against PayMaya and Ateneo-Motolite, respectively.

After a dismal season, Myla Pablo left her long-time club Pocari Sweat and was reportedly moving to Ateneo-Motolite next year. Creamline’s coach Tai Bundit, meanwhile, also left the country for good.

The Philippine Air Force Agilas won the Spiker’s Turf Open Conference after outlasting PLDT in the Finals. Alnakran Abdilla earned the Finals MVP plum.
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La Salle graduating players on 10th Finals appearance: ‘This is for Coach Ramil’

With possibly only two or three games left before their colofrul collegiate careers formally close, La Salle’s graduating players Majoy Baron, Kim Dy, and Dawn Macandili vowed to go all-out come Finals of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.

The DLSU Lady Spikers booked its 10th straight Finals ticket after crushing NU Lady Bulldogs in the semifinals, 27-25, 25-22, 25-11 yesterday.

Dy topscored for the Taft-based squad with 17 markers built on 15 kills. Baron chipped in nine, while Macandili played her part on the defensive end with 23 digs and 10 receptions.

FOR LA SALLE, FOR DE JESUS

Asked about their motivations to reach the Finals, the troika said they dedicate the win to their mentor, Ramil de Jesus.

De Jesus, arguably the winningest coach in the UAAP for the past two decades, molded Baron from a lanky middle spiker to a fearsome force at the net.

“Ako personally ang motivation ko lang ay ayaw kong masira ‘yung record ni coach. Sobrang nabilib din ako sa sistema niya and ‘yung mga seniors ko before at ayaw kong putulin ‘yung history na nagawa nila sa time ko ngayon. So ‘yun ‘yung motivation ko ngayon,” Baron said.

Macandili, meanwhile, morped into an international caliber defender through de Jesus’ Spartan-like training.

“Siyempre last playing year namin, gusto namin na maging maganda ang exit namin at gusto namin ialay ito kay Coach kasi wala naman kami dito kung hindi dahil sa kanya. Ibibigay na namin lahat,” the pint-sized libero, who has been under de Jesus’ wings since her De La Salle Zobel days, shared.

Meanwhile, Dy, a fellow DLSZ alumna, wants to bring another three-peat title to Taft as well as honor her long-time coach.

“This is our chance to bring back the three-peat and siyempre lahat ng sacrifices namin, lahat ng pinaghirapan namin, ito na ‘yung final test namin,” Dy said.

“We want to show coach na these are the players that you produced. We want to honor it for you,” the season 78 Finals MVP added.

A BATTLE BETWEEN TWO DIESELS

This year’s Finals series will surely be one for the books.

The green-and-white squad will be locking horns agaist FEU on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Lady Spikers narrowly escaped the team from Morayta during both of their five-setter matches in the eliminations.

Baron, the reigning MVP, disregards these wins, saying both teams are back to zero going to the finals.

“‘Yung experience, siguro ‘yun ‘yung lamang namin since ilang years naman na kami sa Finals,” Baron said when asked about what could be their advantage from FEU.

Macandili, season 78 best libero, said that they would have to work harder if they want to continue and convert their nine-game winning streak into a UAAP title.

“Doble ‘yung pag-aaral, doble ‘yung tiyaga sa training, doble ‘yung mental toughness at tibay ng puso kasi last games na ‘to ng UAAP kailangan may panapos,” Macandili said.

For the first time since their entry in the league in season 76, the defending champs will face a different yet equally determined contender in the Finals after FEU kicked out their long-time rivals Ateneo Lady Eagles.

Dy, though, thinks that the upcoming Finals will still be the same, Ateneo or not.

“For me, i think it’s gonna be the same. Iba lang ‘yung aura ‘pag Ateneo-La Salle, siyempre nandoon ‘yung school rivalry. But I think FEU will also bring their crowd, so we’ll never know,” Dy said.

Baron believes that FEU, who is gunning for its 30th title, deserves to be in the Finals with them.

“Since sila ‘yung nandiyan sa Finals, ibig sabihin deserved nila na nandoon din sila. Sila talaga ‘yung ka-match [namin],” the La Salle skipper said.

“Siguro challenge din kasi first round [at] second round hindi biro ‘yung five sets. Feeling ko naman may advantage kami kasi lagi kaming nasa Finals and tiwala naman ako sa teammates ko and sa coaches na mabibigay namin ‘yung best namin,” Macandili agreed.

La Salle surges past NU, advance to Finals

Amid the ballyhoo, De La Salle Lady Spikers made quick work of NU Lady Bulldogs to advance to the Finals after a dominating sweep, 27-25, 25-22, 25-11, during the semifinals match of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.

Dawn Macandili had 23 digs and 10 excellent receptions to steer DLSU to its 10th straight Finals appearance.

Jaja Santiago, the lone bright spot for NU, ended her collegiate career with yet another heartbreak.

#PlayToWinDLSU fans and #WeBelieveNU supporters throwed their supports via Twitter during the much-awaited battle between two of the countries best collegiate teams.

 

 

 

SET 1

Veterans Kim Dy, Majoy Baron and Des Cheng stepped up when in mattered the most to turn the tables for a 27-25 first set win.

 

 

 https://mobile.twitter.com/julianrcreyes19/status/987972215923605505?s=20

 

 

SET 2

The girls from Taft overcame the Santiago-led NU squad yet again in the second set, 25-22, thanks to the hard-to-beat floor defense of Macandili.

 

 

 

SET 3

The Lady Spikers breezed past over Santiago’s lone effort to book a Finals duel with FEU Lady Tamaraws after an emphatic 25-11 victory in the third set.

 

 

 

 

 

Pons, FEU book Finals berth, clobber Ateneo in semis

 FEU Lady Tamaraws booked a return trip to the Finals after an emphatic performance to clobber Atenero Lady Eagles in four sets, 25-20, 25-21, 13-25, 25-19, during the semifinals of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.

Not only did it end Morayta-based squad’s eight-year Finals drought, the victory also broke the six-year long La Salle-Ateneo saga.

Bernadeth Pons and Chin-chin Basas combined for 34 markers.

Among the more than 21,000 strong crowd were TV personalities and UAAP stars like long-time Ateneo fan Angelica Panganiban and undisputed Queen Tamaraw Rachel Ann Daquis throwing some support to their respective squads.

Twitter once again erupted as volleyball aficionados expressed their reactions to the much-anticipated semifinals.

The Lady Tamaraws recovered from a slow start to pocket the first set, 25-20. The Lady Eagles, this season’s best blocking team, was outblocked by the Morayta-based squad, 1-6.

The green-and-yellow squad preyed on Ateneo’s poor reception in the second set. Feisty Carandang also showed some Maica Morada-Remy Palma swag. Pons finished the set with a smart push, 25-21.

With revived energy plus FEU’s whooping 14 errors, Bea de Leon and Jho Maraguinot finally woke up from their slumber and helped Ateneo secure the third set, 13-25.

After a lackluster third set performance, FEU reclaimed the momentum, took the driver’s seat, and never looked back through the late-game heroics of Pons to take home the win, 25-19.

Eyes on the Prize: DLSU seeks 3-peat

The DLSU Lady Spikers will storm to the semifinals against NU Lady Bulldogs with fully-loaded arsenal to dispense.

Clinching a twice-to-beat advantage for their first place elimination finish, the Lady Spikers only need one win to secure another Finals berth.

If and when the Taft-based squad overcomes the pesky Lady Bulldogs, it will mark their 10th consecutive Finals appearance.

From there, anything could happen.

They could be defeated by either Ateneo or FEU, who will clash tomorrow, or take home the trophy for another three-peat.

But, everyone knows, they prefer winning.

STEPPING UP

Winning the UAAP 79 crown also signalled the departure of Kim Fajardo, one of the country’s most sougt after playmaker.

When Fajardo ended her colorful collegiate career, the Lady Spikers also bade goodbye to a solid, reliable leader.

This key loss did not weather DLSU, the best program in the country for the past two decades, winning 10 titles in 20 years.

Stepping up are Majoy Baron, Kim Dy and Dawn Macandili who provided the leadership for the three-peat seeking DLSU.

Baron, who inherited the skipper role of Fajardo, was the Lady Spiker’s go-to girl for composure during crunch moments.

The reigning MVP was the epitome of calm and fierceness – a combination of Ara Galang and Aby Maraño’s leadership skills.

Whilst Baron manned the middle and lead the team at the same time, Dy and Macandili, who donned the national colors during off season, delivered the goods in scoring and floor defense, respectively.

The troika got a lot of help from Des Cheng, the undisputed Swag Queen of the season.

Michelle Cobb, meanwhile, filled a much bigger void.

The sophomore setter, who was Fajardo’s understudy last season, cracked into the starting lineup to orchestrate the offense of La Salle.

Aduke Ogunsanya and Tin Tiamzon, who was replaced ocassionally by May Luna, continue to improve game by game to help in DLSU’s bid.

For the first time since Season 76, the Lady Spikers topped the standings after eliminations with a 12-2 win-loss record.

There is one clear thing from all of these: as long as DLSU has seasoned mentor Ramil de Jesus and his program, they will always – always – be a contender.

BARANGAY NO MORE

“Pam-barangay lang ang laro niyo, doon lang kayo bagay, hindi kayo bagay sa UAAP.”

This was coach Ramil’s much talked about post-game interview following a shocking four-set loss from Adamson Lady Falcons during the first round of eliminations.

Prior to this, the green-and-white squad bowed to NU despite leading by four points in the decider frame.

But looking at their previous outings, the reigning champs has played sluggishly: five-set games with FEU and UST, a very tight match against UP, and a straight yet unconvincing win from UE.

There are gaps in their net defense, their outside hitters are underperforming, and their new setter is still learning the ropes.

For the first good part of the eliminations, DLSU didn’t play like champions.

In fact, more than the flaws in their overall performances, the heart of a champion is missing.

After that loss against Adamson, though, UAAP saw a different Lady Spiker as they downed their opponents in an emphatic fashion.

The Lady Spikers dominated the second round of the eliminations, showing off a preview of their championship form.

The green-and-white squad bested their rivals Ateneo Lady Eagles twice; a four-set win in the first round and a straight set victory in the second round.

They avenged their first meeting loss against NU with a sweep, squashed Adamson’s Final Four dreams, and dispatched UST, UP, and UE in straight sets.

Now on an eight-game winning streak, they capped off the second round blemish-free, only dropping three sets (two from FEU, one from ADU) for a 12-2 record.

A small spark is what it took for the Lady Spikers to combust.

They will strut to the semifinals with burning hearts, and anybody who stands in their way to three-peat will probably get burn marks.

CHAMPIONSHIP READY

Unsurprisingly, La Salle showed its dominance across the team skills department statistics all throughout the eliminations.

After round 2 of the eliminations, the Taft-based squad is the best server in the league with a total of 144 aces equivalent to 2.72 aces per set.

Their hard-to-beat floor defense and service reception were both on top of the rankings. Led by libero Macandili, they make 15.28 digs per set and holds a 36.94% efficiency in reception.

Because of their impeccable net and defense, La Salle also sits at the head of the setting department with 9.42 excellent sets per set.

Ateneo, though, has taken over the best blocking team from La Salle, who ranked second with 116 stuff blocks or 2.19 blocks per set by the end of the elimination phase.

With 29.53% efficiency, the reigning champs are fourth in spiking department, a category they haven’t topped for the past few years.

This skills statistics alone guarantee the green-and-white squad at least another Finals appearance en route to three-peat title.

With their semifinals opponent, NU, positioned at the bottom of the receiving and digging division, expect tough serves sharp, loaded arrows from the service line in order to contain the hard hitting Santiago.

Everyone knows what a team like La Salle is capable of.

But they always – always – have suprises in store.

The Rise and Fall of the Lady Falcons

How does it feel like climbing a steep mountain and losing your grip just as you are about to reach its peak?

Adamson Lady Falcons know exactly how that feels.

The last time Adamson scored a Final Four berth was in Season 76 during Bang Pineda, May Macatuno and Mayette Zapanta’s final year playing in the UAAP.

They finished fourth.

The next three seasons, though, saw a limping Adamson squad: a head coach who bolted out midseason, veteran Mylene Paat and Fhen Emnas skipping, less experienced Team B players forced to take over, premature season exit of May Roque due to ACL injury.

Wings broken, the Lady Falcons were the cellar dwellers two seasons in a row after a combined dismal 4-24 win-loss record.

Eager to bring the old Falcon winning culture back, Adamson tapped an all-woman coaching staff composed of fomer UAAP stars with American guru Airess Padda at the helm.

Slowly but surely, they nursed their broken wings until they could soar high again, this time with newly found confidence and solid lineup – the strongest they had in years.

Joy Dacoron and libero Thang Ponce blossomed under the tutelage of Padda, while Jema Galanza emerged into a deadlier triple-double performing open spiker.

Paat and Emnas, meanwhile, returned to the San Marcelino nest for another tour of duty.

A pair of prized recruit, Chiara Permentilla and Eli Soyud, a former Lady Spiker, further strengthened their bid for redemption.

The squad also saw significant actions in Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference where they showed glimpses of brilliance after winning six consecutive matches before bowing out in the semifinals.

On paper, these ladies were more than capable of overthrowing big squads like La Salle and Ateneo.

With a line-up consisting of veteran and more experienced spikers, Adamson was a legit Final Four contender in season 80 as volleyball pundits claim.

So what, exactly, happened to them and their hope of reclaiming a lost glory?

STRONG FIRST FLIGHT

“I just say that anything is possible. Obviously, we have more talent on the team this year, and we have seasoned players,” the American mentor said in an interview.

“We have all the pieces now. We definitely have game changers on our team. They’re superstars,” Padda added.

True enough, the Lady Falcons soared back into the winning column.

The Lady Falcons recovered from a four-set loss to NU and eke out a thrilling five-setter game against FEU off the heroics of their skipper, Jemma Galanza, who tallied 26 points, 15 digs and 17 receptions.

Veteran Mylene Paat topscored during their straight-set victory against UP with 15 markers for the navy-blue-and-white squad’s second win.

Touting a pair of losses from UST and ADMU, Adamson executed a perfect bounce back win and defeated DLSU in four hard-earned sets. Eli Soyud, a former spiker from Taft, led all scorers with 18 points.

With Galanza, Paat, Soyud and Permentilla scoring in bunches, and Ponce, Dacoron and Emnas performing well in their respective positions, the Lady Falcons looked ready to march back to the semifinals and to the finals even.

Adamson received early welcome-back-to-Final-Four greetings after their emphatic run.

But maybe, just maybe, those greetings were way too early.

DOWNFALL

The Adamson squad who beat the defending champs were non-existent during their match against UE, tallying tournament-high 52 errors or giving away more than two sets.

Some Lady Falcons, Padda revealed, didn’t attend team practices the days following their victory against DLSU.

Hoping to discipline the team and realign their focus to the ultimate goal, the American coach fielded second stringers.

The usual suspects were inserted back on a losing effort. UE, the lone team they defeated last season, ousted them in five sets.

Tots Carlos and UP also exacted revenge against the Lady Falcons, winning their second match-up in five sets.

Adamson pocketed two consecutive wins from UE and NU before falling into a three-game losing skid, two games of which they could’ve won if not for their greatest enemy: their selves.

“I guess the curse of Adamson is that we don’t have a winning culture and when you’re trying to create a winning culture our teams just gets too excited. They get too complacent and they feel like they’ve already won the game,” a frustrated Padda said after her team squandered a chance to pull a stunner against Ateneo.

A couple of win is all Adamson needs to crack into the semifinals and end the three-year drought.

Had they won another one or two of the seven five-setter matches they played, the Lady Falcons are probably in the Final Four right now.

But they didn’t, so they aren’t.

NEXT FLIGHT

This season, Adamson has to bid farewell to its seniors Galanza, Paat, Emnas and Jellie Tempiatura, the last breed of Lady Falcons who had been in the Final Four.

If there is something Galanza is most grateful for, it would be Padda’s arrival at the Falcons’ nest.

“She’s always given me so much trust even though I became quite rebellious but she was always there for me and I never saw her gave up on me,” Galanza said in Filipino.

But Padda said her future with the Lady Falcona is uncertain, blaming herself for the team’s failure.

“I don’t know and I’m not sure if I am what they want for their program,” said Padda, who steered Adamson from a 1-12 win-loss record last season to 6-8 this year.

“I haven’t thought of it yet but I’m not making any plan. I’m not gonna assume that I’m out of the job. I hope not,” said Padda.

Menwhile, Joy Dacoron could either forego her remaining playing year or choose to stay to lead the new generation of Lady Falcons.

If and when Dacoron decides to return, she, Soyud, Permentilla and Ponce will be bannering Adamson together with May Roque and Bernadette Flora.

Adamson fell short in returning to Final Four this season, but it’s a thing of the past now. It’s time to shrug off the what ifs.

Check for broken bones, spread your wings and soar like a Falcon.

There is work to be done.