Retooled La Salle makes Season 78 debut

Eager to bounce back after falling in the championship round the past two years, powerhouse La Salle opens its UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament campaign against dangerous Far Eastern University on Wednesday at the Philsports Arena.

With Ara Galang and Camille Cruz suffering massive knee injuries in the postseason, the Lady Spikers bowed to Ateneo in the finals, denying coach Ramil de Jesus a title for the second straight year.

But with an intact core backstopped by the return of a former Rookie of the Year and the arrival of two blue-chip rookies, the Taft spikers are expected to give the Lady Eagles a tougher challenge this season.

Saying she’s 95% healthy, Galang will team up with veterans Kim Fajardo, Mika Reyes, and the returning Mika Esperanza, who was a big part of La Salle’s three-peat from Seasons 73 to 75.

Joining them are old hands Carol Cerveza and Cyd Demecillo, and power rookies May Luna and Tin Tiamzon.

The Lady Tamaraws, however, aren’t expected to roll over and die in their 4:00 pm matchup, with Season 74 Best Setter Gyzel Sy coming back to fulfill her college eligibility.

Tipped to make the Final Four again, FEU will lean on Remy Palma and Bernadeth Pons to challenge the trademark stonewall defense of the Lady Spikers’ frontline.

In the 2:00 pm curtain-raiser, two teams that missed the semifinals last year tangle, with UST and Adamson trying to open their campaigns on a positive note.