Lady Eagles, Tigresses clash in season opener

Mark Escarlote on Feb 03, 2017 09:31 PM
Lady Eagles, Tigresses clash in season opener
Ateneo de Manila and University of Sto. Tomas collide in an early match of title contenders in the 79th UAAP women's volleyball tournament.

Former two-time champion Ateneo de Manila begins its post-Alyssa Valdez era campaign Saturday in an early test against a very dangerous University of Sto. Tomas side in the opening salvo of the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum.

Game time is at 4:00 p.m. and will air live over ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23 and ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166.The game is also on livestream.

The Lady Eagles lost prolific scorer and leader last season after the departure of former three-time Most Valuable Player Valdez.

But Ateneo is out to prove that the heartstrong mantra remains alive for the holdovers trying to reclaim the crown archrival De La Salle University took away from them that ended the Lady Eagles two-year reign.

Veterans Bea De Leon, Kim Gequillana, Jho Maraguinot and setter Jia Morado are all back to lead the Katipunan-based squad and will be welcoming added arsenals to help the cause.

Third year player Maddie Madayag returns to action after missing the second half of Season 78 because of a knee injury. Also marching into battle are Michele Morente, who skipped last year’s tournament because of academic problems, and a fully recovered Ana Gopico, who last played for the blue and white back in Season 76 before going down with a knee injury that barred her from suiting up for two years.

Rookies Kat Tolentino, who had her debut delayed last year because of a knee injury she sustained in the pre-season, and Jules Samonte, who is a recruit out of De La Salle - Zobel, are also expected to shine and contribute for the Lady Eagles.

And the match against the Tigresses will serve as Ateneo’s litmus test.

UST is a very hungry squad, looking to end a four-year Final Four drought.

The Espana-based volleybelles are considered as one of the top title contenders despite the graduation of seasoned players Carmela Tunay and Jessey De Leon.

Lacking a leader inside the court last year, UST will now enjoy the veteran presence of Pam Lastimosa with the fifth year player now fully recovered from a knee injury that forced her to sit out Season 78.

Helping Lastimosa are third year players Cherry Rondina, who in the first semester captured the beach volleyball crown with partner Jem Guttierez, and EJ Laure and other graduating players Chlodia Cortez and Alexine Cabanos.

Focus will also be on sophomores Carla Sandoval and Dim-dim Pacres , who both showed great promise during UST championship run in the UniGames and stints in the V-League.

   

       

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