With promising high school core, UST seeks to regain lost luster in seniors division

Fifteen UAAP crowns, 6 Shakey’s V-League championships and a lot of history are etched in UST’s women’s volleyball program, but the club has since lost its dominant stature with a 5-year title drought hounding the celebrated university.

The Golden Tigresses need not to look away, however, to find the solutions to its fading luster, as a young and talented core of players lies within their grassroots program.

Perhaps most famous for the discovery of Alyssa Valdez, the UST Junior Golden Tigresses now boast a formidable group that could bring back the Espana-based squad’s lost glory, at least if most of them decided to stay.

“Naging matured na yung mga player natin. Yun lang naman yung hinihintay natin sa lineup from UAAP (Season 78). Talagang pure-grown Thomasian yung mga nandon talaga,” coach Kung Fu Reyes told FOX Sports.

As if winning the annual Shakey’s Girls Volleyball League of the Champions wasn’t enough, the core of the young Tigresses have won most of the tournament’s individual awards.

Eya Laure took home the MVP and Best Open Spiker award, Bernadett Pepito claimed her back-to-back Best Libero award, Ma. Regina Mangulabnan took the Best Setter award and rookie Janna Torres was the 2nd Best Middle Blocker.

“Hindi man natin pwedeng ipangako yung langit, alam natin kung pano pumunta sa langit. Ibig sabihin hindi literal na papunta langit kumbaga kung paano ka papunta sa taas,” Reyes added of his pitch to prospective college recruits.

“Yung support alone ni UST is well provided naman kung ayun ang paguusapan, mas malaki pa rin ang binibigay ni UST, hindi lang talaga tangible, hindi mo mahahawakan.”

Stepping up the recruitment, Reyes said their bench is deeper this time around with the addition of rookies from the Palarong Pambansa.

Most notable rookies are starters Baby Love Barbon and Torres who immediately made an impact as the Junior Golden Tigresses defeated bitter rival NU in the Girls Volleyball League finals.

Reyes said UST will do its part in developing their budding stars as well as the effort to keep them for the future. Should these youngsters decide to continue their careers with UST, there is a big chance that the black, white and gold banners will rise again in the volleyball scene.

“Siguro may chance naman si UST na at least 60%-70% nasa amin, yung 30%-20% na pwedeng maagaw, siguro magiging Pilipino na lang yung papairalin ko or doon ako umaasa yung gratitude na lang,” he said.

“Mas pipiliin ko yung gusto mag-UST throughout kahit hindi ganon kagaling, at least kapag gumaling kami yung makikinabang. E kung sa amin lang magtetrain magpapalakas tapos iiwanan kami sa dulo, hindi ko eentertain yun.” — By John Chester Fajardo