#FlashbackFriday: Hot, ‘haute’ volleybelles of UAAP seasons past

Barry Viloria on May 05, 2016 05:36 PM
#Flashback: Hot, ‘haute’ volleybelles of UAAP seasons past
We look back at the hard court stars of the not so distant past, who, in a previous magazine feature, looked extremely fierce and fashionable! (Photos below by Paul del Rosario for UAAP Magazine)

The year was 2011. Men’s basketball still reigned supreme among the lineup of UAAP events. UAAP cheerdance came a close second in terms of popularity. FEU and UST were still the tough towers of men’s volleyball. Women’s volleyball was still on the horizon with La Salle defeating UST in the finals. Taft was still establishing its would-be epic rivalry with Ateneo in the next season.

There were already these ladies then, fast making themselves as household names, like, you know, today’s Alyssa’s, Ara’s, Mela’s, Ponses, Molde’s. We would shoot them altogether for an extended feature in a previous issue of UAAP Magazine. Volleyball sportscasters Noel Zarate and Anne Remulla led the headhunting—we were looking for one volleybelle from each school, and for her to represent her Alma Mater she would have to be the complete package. From liberos to spikers to setters, the judging took some legit thinking. They should be smart players, and smarter as students. The good looks were already there to begin with, so…

It was a casting coup, the shoot took place at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel. You’d still remember them—you might still be seeing many of them play (at the semipros or within any collegiate league). For some good #TBT, we dedicate this post to these heroines who were all right there at the blossoming of UAAP women’s volleyball and the sport in general!

Leuseht Dawis, UE

The team’s open spiker and second leading scorer missed Season 72 after giving birth to her baby girl (the dad was CEU Scorpions volleyball player Jerico Magno). The then HRM student went on labor C-section style, a sensitive operation that almost cost Dawis her or her daughter’s life. Fortunately, the two survived—and it turned out to be the inspiring story behind her return in Season 74. “I became more responsible. Airam (her daughter) is my new inspiration,” she said in the magazine interview.

Amanda Isada, UP

Isada falls under the cliché ‘It runs in the family’—with dad Vip and brother Ivan being involved in UP’s varsity programs. She worked as a libero to the Maroons, and then graduated with Physical Education before becoming a PE instructor at UP and ICA. “The goal is to impart sports to everyone. I want to teach and train future athletes to be the best they can be,” she told us about her teacher dreams.

Kai Nepomuceno, NU

Then one of NU’s top scorers, Nepomuceno showed more than just her lanky, commercial model-material physique. But it was actually through the oddest times that she discovered volleyball, back when she had a fight with her parents that caused her to seek refuge at a friend’s house. There, she met NU’s Jen Reyes—former UAAP Best Receiver and Best Digger—who then encouraged her to try volleyball out in the same school. “Kung hindi talaga dahil sa tulong ni Jen nung umalis ako, wala na ako sa volleyball ngayon,” we remembered the now-Cignal player saying.

Maruja Banaticla, UST

No, that’s not Carmela Tunay or Cha Cruz. But the talent remains apparent in this Laguna native, who called herself the “neneng probinsyana” because “Ang layo kasi ng pamilya ko at hindi pa ako sanay na hindi sila kasama tuwing tapos na ang klase. Panay tuloy ang punta ko sa Guidance Office.” But it was all for the better for Banaticla, who was primed in high school before landing on the starting lineup of España in her first year. The rest, of course, is history until the Commerce student ditched her last playing year in the UAAP to play for PLDT.

Gyzelle Sy, FEU

Her return to this season after missing it for other conferences showcased how much of a veteran she is still is. The UAAP Season 74 Best Setter recalled how much taller she was before, until her height development stopped that she had to adjust to becoming a volleyball setter instead. The boyish Sy now leaves the league with a bronze finish for the Lady Tamaraws, and is off to pursue volleyball still. “Nung natuto na ako maglaro, naisip ko na baka ito na ang pagkakataon kong matulungan ang pamilya ko,” she said in the interview.

Pau Soriano, Adamson

“May mga times nga na tumatakas pa ako sa bahay para lang makapaglaro. Nung una inisip ng magulang ko na nagsasayang lang ako ng oras sa volleyball kaysa tumutok ako sa pag-aaral.” That’s how then Hospitality Management student Soriano took volleyball on in her first few years in the sport. Although, she then told us, she has since become more disciplined about what balancing her student-athlete life. Success still runs through the post-UAAP career of the Palarong Pambansa star-cum-beach volleyball strong(wo)man. She has since played for various semipro teams, with F2 Logistics Cargo Movers as her current squad.

Michele Gumabao, DLSU

She’s had three UAAP titles to her belt. She was Best Blocker twice and the Finals MVP on her last playing year. She was “easily” the poster girl of UAAP women’s volleyball, until the Marketing Management graduate decided to not play in her last year of eligibility. This obviously left the hearts of many fans broken, but this didn’t stop them from seeing their idol more eventually. She went inside the Pinoy Big Brother House and came out of it as a bigger sports personality—Gumabao is a host, blogger, social media influencer, and endorser, while still playing volleyball for Philips Gold Lady Slammers.

Fille Cainglet, Ateneo

Before the era of Alyssa Valdez, Ateneo had the ‘Fab Five.’ And of it, Cainglet easily stood out because of her skills and perky personality on the court. It seems like it was already that long, especially when the open spiker married and had a child with former UP volleyball player and director-politician Lino Cayetano. Cainglet-Cayetano has since come back to the volleyball scene through Meralco Power Spikers in Shakey’s V-League and Petron Blaze Spikers in the PSL. The ‘mamathlete’ also showed some goods at the Beach Volleyball Republic last December.

This story was derived from a story published in UAAP Magazine September 2011 issue, originally titled "Way Too Hot" and authored by Noel Zarate.

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