UAAP Season 81: Bring back the growl

Mark Escarlote on Feb 09, 2019 05:00 PM
UAAP Season 81: Bring back the growl
University of Sto. Tomas will treat every game in the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament as a do-or-die match as the Tigresses look to bring back the growl that brought numerous titles to Espana.

The University of Sto. Tomas suffered its worst showing in the Final Four era last season.

An unacceptable result especially for a team with a winning tradition.

Head coach Kungfu Reyes wants to put that bitter memory behind as the Tigresses look for a fresh start in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament set to open shop on February 16.

“Maglalaro na kami ng wala nang bukas ganoon ‘yung mantra namin na gagawin para at least laging uhaw sa panalo,” said Reyes, whose squad finished seventh in Season 80 with only four wins in 14 outings.

UST was badly bitten by the injury bug last year and struggled with their performance as veteran hitter Sisi Rondina single-handedly tried to carry the scoring load and even the floor defense for the Tigresses.

But things look bright this season for the Espana-based squad with the arrival of new blood led by celebrated rookie Eya Laure, a UST high school star who can play multiple roles, and the return of key pieces from last year’s core. 

“Pipilitin namin na umangat doon sa very unusual na pwesto na natapos namin last year, nag-number seven, very uncharacteristic. Kaya lang wala ka nang pwedeng gawin kundi tanggapin. Move forward ganun na lang ginagawa namin para umangat ulit ngayong season na to,” Reyes said.

A healthy sophomore Milena Alessandrini, who was named Rookie of the Year last season despite missing a couple of games because of a shoulder injury, Dimdim Pacres, Caitlyn Viray, Alina Bicar and Rica Rivera will be back for the black and gold. Also expected to make the final roster are freshmen Kecelyn Galdones and Ysa Jimenez.  

Tin Francisco will miss the season because of an ACL injury while EJ Laure skipped action for the second straight season.

The mentor expects the same passion and heart from Rondina, who will be playing in her fifth and last year, and hopes that the Cebuana-native’s intensity and ferociousness to fight for the glory of UST will rub in to her teammates.      

“’Si, hawaan mo naman’. Pabiro pero it means na, ‘Gawin mo, hawaan mo yung (team) natin, champion ka ng beach volleyball, ito na lang di natin nakukuha. Make the most out of it,’” said Reyes of Rondina, who won four beach volleyball titles including a three-peat this season.

“’Hindi pwedeng ikaw lang ang tatrabaho diyan, magtulong-tulong na kayo. Hawaan mo na sila. I-contaminate mo na ‘yung mga kasama mo, parang may sakit ka. Contaminate mo na sila, para mahawa sila sayo para maglaro sila ng ganyan,’” he added. “Sabi ko nga, ‘Sisi last year (mo na) ‘wag kang papayag na ‘di tayo papasok sa Finals.’ Syempre to give another morale booster sa kanya, para ma uplift lalo yung will nung bata so mas maganda.”

Reyes reiterates that his team must have all hands on deck to achieve their goal.

“Kailangan lahat may bilang, kailangan lahat tumutulong ‘yun ‘yung everybody has a role para maging mas maayos ang takbo ng team natin kailangan dependable lahat ng tao na nandito,” he said.



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