UP Lady Maroons to bring the fight in Season 78
Mark Escarlote on Jan 25, 2016 03:04 PM
Ngayon mas higher ang goal namin, sana pumasok sa top two -- Kathy Bersola
No. of women’s volleyball title: 8
Last title won: Season 45 (1982-83)
Season 77 record: 5-9 (6th)
Head coach: Jerry Yee
The University of the Philippines Lady Maroons were expected to make a deep run last year in UAAP Season 77.
But fate would not have it so.
At the end of the first round, Kathy Bersola suffered a left knee injury that prematurely ended her season and from there the Lady Maroons struggled and missed a stint in the Final Four by just a couple of games.
Fast forward to a year and UP looks better-armed this time.
In fact, the Lady Maroons are considered to be a dark horse this season with a healthy Bersola and fourth year veteran hitter Nicole Tiamzon and a batch of good high school recruits to fill the void left by the departure of Angeli Araneta and Arianne Ilustre.
Actually, Bersola said the team is looking beyond a spot in the Final Four.
“’Yun talaga ang goal namin. Last year pa dapat ang goal namin was mag-Final Four,” said the third year Bersola, Season 76's Best Blocker. “Ngayon mas higher ang goal namin, sana pumasok sa top two. That’s what we’re really looking forward to.”
Aside from Bersola and power-hitting Tiamzon, key returnees for the State U squad are Jewel Lai, Marian Buitre, Princess Gaiser, Arielle Estranero and Vina Alinas.
But what sets UP apart from other teams this season is its set of blue chip rookies.
All eyes are set on what Hope Christian School’s Justine Dorog, Angeli Basarte and Ma. Lina Isabel Molde as well as Sta. Cruz Academy-Lubao, Pampanga’s Diana Carlos can bring at the table for head coach Jerry Yee.
These rookies played a big role in the pre-season. UP had a decent finish in two Shakey’s V-League conferences, including a bronze medal finish in the Third Conference late last year.
“Sobrang malaking tulong siya (V-League stint) kung maiko-compare natin sa ibang teams ‘yung exposures. At least ‘yung mga rookies namin na-feel na nila ang vibe na similar sa UAAP so hindi na sila mahihirapan mag-adjust,” said Bersola.
“Ang mga rookies namin they have the skills and sana until the UAAP season ma-mix and mag-gel ‘yung skills nila pati sa skills ng veterans para as a team makamit namin ang goal naming,” added Tiamzon.
Bersola believes that they have a great mix of veterans and young guns.
“Parang kino-complement namin ang isa’t isa. Pinupunan naming 'yung kulang ng isa’t isa. Maganda ang relationship namin,” she said.
She hopes that it will translate into something big for the team.
Upside: Good mix of veterans and rookies. Bersola has recovered from her knee injury and coach Yee has a promising lineup of rookies.
Downside: Maturity. Yes the Lady Maroons landed a good bunch of high school recruits and they indeed performed well in the V-League. But can they maintain the same level in the UAAP? Can they handle the enormous pressure?
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