Some new names popped up and a familiar face zoomed to the top spot. Action in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament is now truly starting to heat up as the contenders are starting to create a little bit of distance between them and the pretenders.
And while volleyball, as we all know, is a team sport, there will always be names who will shine bright may it be through their flawless setting prowess or their mic drop-worthy attacks.
This week, a couple of new names made it to the list while some of last week’s leaders went down in the player rankings.
10. Diana Carlos, UP
There’s a newbie on the list and if you’ve been watching the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament in the last 2 weeks, you’ve probably heard of the name Diana Carlos.
While her fellow rookies Isa Molde and Justine Dorog struggled this week, Carlos continued her ascent and introduced her never-say-die brand of play against no less than defending champion Ateneo where she scored 16 big points.
UP may have lost the match and dropped to a 1-2 standing but the impact created by the Pampanga native is undeniable as she breaks into the top 10 best spikers, ranking 7th in the league so far.
If Carlos gets to ride the momentum and play at this level, she will be building a strong case to win that coveted Rookie of the Year award despite this year’s tough competition.
9. Jema Galanza, Adamson
Adamson’s matchup against powerhouse La Salle was, to put it bluntly, painful to watch.
We’ve all heard about the Lady Falcons vaunted floor defense but it was missing in action last Saturday when the Lady Falcons gave up the match without much of a semblance to a fight.
This has greatly affected the performance of ace spiker Jema Galanza who drops from #2 to #9 this week.
Without the leadership of team captain Mylene Paat and the coverage of her teammates, Galanza was blocked on many occasions and didn’t get to convert as much points for the San Marcelino squad.
In spite of the bad week, though, Galanza has enough cushion to remain as 6th best scorer, 5th best spiker, 10th best server and 6th best digger.
8. Cherry Rondina, UST
Cherry Rondina remains to be one of the new forces to be reckoned with in the UAAP but just like what transpired in UST’s matchup against rival FEU, she can’t do it alone.
After averaging more than 25 points per game in her first two outings, Rondina finished with 14 points which, if you come to think of it, is not bad at all.
Rondina got ample support from veteran Carmela Tunay, who is back with a vengeance, pouring 16 points of her own but all this was not enough to snap the Golden Tigresses’ skid.
The Cebuana’s level of play didn’t really dip this week. It is more of the Lady Tamaraws’ acknowledging how deadly Rondina is and making the right adjustments in defending her both at the net and at the back.
To date, the ‘cherry bomb’ is ranked 2nd in scoring, 4th in spiking, 5th in serving and 7th in digging. For someone who was a supposed replacement to an injured player, she sure is proving worthy of the starting spot.
7. Maddie Madayag, Ateneo
How can one player improve that much that fast?
That’s probably what’s going through your mind while watching the Davao beauty in the past 2 weeks of collegiate action.
After hardly seeing much of her last year, Madayag was all of a sudden thrust into the spotlight, delivering kill after kill for Ateneo, making us marvel at the wonders of coach Tai Bundit’s training program.
Her connection with setter Jia Morado has been impeccable and her running spikes is slowly becoming one of the Lady Eagles’ deadliest arsenals.
Madayag is currently ranked 10th best scorer, 6th best blocker and 1st best server of the league so far. One word: impressive.
6. Majoy Baron, La Salle
Season 77 served as a trial and error for La Salle with regard to who should own the 2nd middle blocker position and play alongside Mika Reyes.
This 2016, however, consider the job filled as Majoy Baron continues to serve reasons why she owns the slot this year and in the years to come.
Baron turned out to be ripe to get major playing minutes for the Lady Spikers after showcasing an all-around play from offense to defense.
More surprisingly, Baron is the leading scorer for the Taft squad so far with 53 big points. She is also ranked as the best blocker so far, eclipsing Adamson’s Joy Dacoron.
It looks like Baron is set to be the new torch-bearer of La Salle’s long tradition of having dominant and tall middle blockers in the UAAP.
5. Toni Rose Basas, FEU
The unfortunate minor back injury of Bernadeth Pons could have been disastrous for FEU. There to soften the blow, however, was Toni Rose Basas who doesn’t seem to show signs of slowing down any time soon.
The past week has been challenging for the Lady Tamaraws, having to face defending champion Ateneo and archrival UST. And though they dropped the match against the former, the girls off Recto bounced back right away and disposed off the Golden Tigresses for a 2-2 record.
With Pons still recovering, Basas carried most of FEU’s scoring load against UST and finished with 19 points, proving she is as capable now as the rest of the team’s star spikers.
By now, Toni Rose have already escaped the shadow of older sister Mari Toni after making a name of her own as FEU’s new go-to girl for its 2016 campaign.
3rd in scoring, 6th in spiking and 4th in serving, it is interesting how the outside hitter will combine her performance with Pons who is slowly inching her way into getting her fighting form back.
4. Jia Morado, Ateneo
Don’t look now but Jia Morado is closing the gap between her and league-leading setter Kim Fajardo.
While Fajardo is still enjoying the view atop the penthouse with a 9.50 excellent sets per frame, Morado is now not too far behind, averaging 8.08.
This, though, is the least of the playmaker’s concerns. According to her, what truly matters is if her attackers get to whack the ball hard whenever she puts it up in the air. Well, if we talk about how the Lady Eagles punished UP’s defense last weekend, we can pretty much say it’s mission accomplished for Morado.
But can we also talk about how beautiful her sets are and how graceful she looks despite the external factors that could cause a regular human being to crumble under pressure?
The way Morado moves inside the court is so precise that there is not much left to do for her spikers but to hammer the ball for she makes sure to almost always send the ball at the right spot and at the right height.
3. Kim Fajardo, La Salle
In La Salle’s tough loss to NU, its team captain Kim Fajardo took the blame saying it was her lackluster performance that led to their defeat.
Fajardo then made a major bounce back against Adamson with a well-distributed offense, 18 excellent sets, 8 points of her own, 6 of which came from attacks and the team’s third win of the season.
The Batangas native also shined in perhaps one of the best plays of the season so far when middle blocker Mika Reyes set the ball to her which she converted to a point with a down the line kill.
It looks like it will be another race to the best setter plum this year between Fajardo and Ateneo’s Morado but at least for now, the Lady Spiker is leading.
Mad props to these 2 for making the game a lot more exciting than it used to be. The spotlight will always be focused on the spikers but these setters are just as important to the future of the sport.
2. Jaja Santiago, NU
To be honest, Jaja Santiago is yet to reach her full potential this Season 78.
Her mean serves which wowed the volleyball fans in the off-season are nowhere to be found and her setters are yet to master the height of the ball she needs in order to convert as much points as she is capable of.
Even in her blocking, there is much left to be desired as the tallest girl in the league is yet to break into to the 5 best blockers, ranking 7th to date.
All this taken into consideration, Santiago is still the biggest force—literally and figuratively—tiding NU through this season.
The 6-foot-5 spiker is 4th best in scoring with 58 points and currently the most efficient attacker with 45 % success rate in offense.
Imagine the damage the Lady Bulldogs can do when the adjustment period is over for the F. Jhocson squad and Santiago finally gets her lethal form back. It won’t be pretty for the rest of the field.
1. Alyssa Valdez, Ateneo
Alyssa Valdez is not one of those players you want to challenge.
The talk of how she does not pack as much power to her attacks anymore was all over social media and online forums in the last two weeks but expect all of that to subside now after the queen showed everyone last Sunday that she is still as powerful—if not more powerful—than before.
Valdez may not score as much as she used to but that doesn’t mean she’s slacking. There is just more options now for Ateneo that the offense could be spread out to all their able attackers like Madayag, de Leon, Ahomiro and Maraguinot.
It even looks like a good way of slowly distributing the scoring load to the ones who will stay with the team after Season 78 is over.
The MVP numbers of Valdez are shining bright this early as she claims the best scorer spot with 69 points, third best spiker, 6th best server and the 8th best digger of the tournament.
You’ve been warned. She was just warming up. — By Mac Dionisio