UAAP Season 78 Women’s Volleyball Team Previews

Adamson Lady Falcons
What happened last year: Adamson’s Season 77 was a series of ups and downs. After having a two-game losing streak, they then score a three-game winning run. After that, it was another losing streak, then one more winning run.
Consistency was lacking in the Lady Falcons’ Final Four push last season. They finished at 5-9, ranking seventh at the end of the tournament.

Key loss: Faye Guevara
Key returnees: Mylene Paat, Jema Galanza, Fhen Emnas, Erika Alkuino
Best case: 5th place
Worst case: 8th place

Woman of the moment: Mylene Paat. No third-year player has been named Adamson captain in recent years, but Paat is an exception. With her undeniable power and leadership inside the court, she was the clear choice to replace Guevara.

Ateneo Lady Eagles
What happened last year: Ateneo was simply unstoppable last season, sweeping the double round-robin eliminations and just dropping seven sets (six in three five-setters) in the process.
The championship round was a breeze for Alyssa Valdez and Co., as antagonist La Salle wasn’t able to muster a decent attack after spikers Ara Galang and Camille Cruz went down with season-ending injuries.

Key losses: Denden Lazaro, Ella de Jesus
Key returnees: Alyssa Valdez, Amy Ahomiro, Jia Morado, Bea de Leon
Best case: Champion
Worst case: Final Four ouster

Woman of the moment: Alyssa Valdez. Now in her last UAAP playing year, expect Valdez to come out with guns firing. In 2015, she garnered valuable experience battling the best of Asia in the U23 Championship. She also won championships with PLDT in the Shakey’s V-League. It will be beautiful to see her end her collegiate career with yet another tiara.

De La Salle Lady Spikers
What happened last year: La Salle’s bid to regain the crown in Season 77 was put to an abrupt halt when it lost its most dependable spiker in Ara Galang due to a torn ACL and MCL.
Without Galang, the Lady Spikers got literally swept in the finals by Ateneo, and finished as bridesmaids for the second year in a row.

Key losses: Cienne Cruz, Camille Cruz
Key returnees: Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Mika Esperanza, Kim Fajardo
Best case: Champion
Worst case: Final Four ouster

Woman of the moment: Kim Fajardo. With Galang still recovering from her massive knee injury, the newly-minted team captain has been tapped by coach Ramil de Jesus to lead the Lady Spikers inside the court. The Batangas native is known to be tough and focused in-game, but she will have to conquer new territories, as being a skipper is no easy task.

FEU Lady Tamaraws
What happened last year: A slow start seemed to have doomed FEU in Season 77, but the Lady Tamaraws were able to redeem themselves in the second round to barely make it to the Final Four.
However, the wards of coach Shaq delos Santos didn’t have enough guns to battle a stronger NU side in the stepladder semifinals.

Key losses: Tin Agno, Geneveve Casugod
Key returnees: Gyzel Sy, Rem Palma, Bernadeth Pons
Best case: Final Four
Worst case: 6th place

Woman of the moment: Gyzel Sy. Her return is a big boost for FEU since it will surely make a huge impact for the Lady Tamaraws’ offense. Expect the middle spikers to be more utilized and more variations to be delivered in their attacks. Confusing defenses would be crucial for them this year.

NU Lady Bulldogs
What happened last year: The entry of coach Roger Gorayeb midway through the season inspired the Lady Bulldogs, leading them to almost upsetting La Salle in the stepladder Final Four.
NU, though, faltered when it mattered most, as they fell to the Lady Spikers in an exciting do-or-die matchup. They bagged the bronze medal for the second straight year.

Key losses: None
Key returnees: Jaja Santiago, Myla Pablo, Aiko Urdas
Best case: Champion
Worst case: Final Four ouster

Woman of the moment: Jaja Santiago. After playing for the national U23 team (and wowing international coaches in the process) and honing her skills in the Philippine SuperLiga and the Shakey’s V-League, a more mature Santiago is expected to figure prominently, as NU hopes to end a 60-year title drought.

UE Lady Warriors
What happened last year: UE finished Season 77 with a 0-14 record. Despite the winless run, the Lady Warriors saw a glimmer of hope when, in some games, they were able to keep it close against powerhouse squads in the UAAP.

Key losses: None
Key returnees: Kath Arado, Judith Abil, Shaya Adorador
Best case: 5th place
Worst case: 8th place

Woman of the moment: Celine Domingo. The newly-appointed team captain is a rookie, so coach Francis Vicente must have seen something special in the 5-foot-9 outside hitter to give her the daunting task of getting the Lady Warriors out of the bottom of the rankings.

UP Lady Maroons
What happened last year: Flat starts in both the first and second rounds proved to be UP’s downfall in Season 77. But even then, the revamped Lady Maroons finished just one game short of the Final Four.
Those heart-breaking five-set losses to Adamson and Ateneo haunted them and Kathy Bersola’s ACL tear midway through the second round effectively dashed their hopes of making the semifinals.

Key losses: None
Key returnees: Nicole Tiamzon, Kathy Bersola, Jewel Lai
Best case: Final Four
Worst case: 7th place

Woman of the moment: Jewel Lai. While everybody will be talking about Bersola, Tiamzon and UP’s super rookies, the task of getting them work like a Swiss clock falls on Lai’s deft hands. Now with more attacking options available and improved libero work, expect Lai to mold the Lady Maroons into one mean offensive machine.

UST Golden Tigresses
What happened last year: After losing five of their first six games, UST came charging with a four-game winning streak in the second round to run back in contention. Alas, the Golden Tigresses faltered in crunch time and lost three straight to end the elimination round.
Even then, UST had the chance to enter the Final Four, but sputtered in the fifth set against an FEU side powered by Casugod and then-rookie Heather Guino-o.

Key losses: Pam Lastimosa
Key returnees: EJ Laure, Carmela Tunay, Ria Meneses, Jessey de Leon
Best case: Final Four
Worst case: 7th place

Woman of the moment: EJ Laure. The former high school standout showed what she can do in Season 77, but as the team captain this year, Laure is expected to do more than just pummel balls. She has to help create chemistry in a team that has seemed to enjoy happy times, but sulk when the going gets tough.

Josiah Albelda, Mac Dionisio, Arylle Magtalas and Joyce Palad