UAAP Season 81: New breed of Lady Bulldogs ready for first bite
Mark Escarlote on Feb 12, 2019 08:02 AM
They may look young and playful but these National University Lady Bulldogs will bite if not taken seriously.
Too young, too raw.
Newly-appointed National University head coach Norman Miguel knows that UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament will be a tough one considering that the Lady Bulldogs will have to navigate in the tournament with a rookie-laden crew.
Add to that the departure of key players including 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago, veterans sitting out the season either by choice or due to an unfortunate circumstance and with the offseason drama, NU is indeed an embattled pack.
Still, Miguel, who replaced Babes Castillo just two months before the start of the season, and the Lady Bulldogs embrace the adversities they have to overcome to prove their doubters wrong.
“Mahirap. Challenging, very challenging. I am telling you talaga. Very challenging pero laban,” said Miguel, who was the mentor of De La Salle University men’s team last year.
NU closed Season 80 at fourth spot with a 7-7 win-loss record, losing to three-time defending champion DLSU in the Final Four. The Lady Bulldogs also saw the departure of its main scorer Santiago, last year’s Most Valuable Player who averaged 20 points per game with a 41.76% attack efficiency, Aiko Urdas and starting libero Gayle Valdez after exhausting their playing eligibility.
Seasoned setter Jasmine Nabor, Jorelle Singh and Roma Doromal decided to skip Season 81 due to various reasons while middle blocker Risa Sato was forced to sit out the tournament due to academic issues.
With this huge hole to fill, NU will pin its hopes on young bloods led by three-time Best Setter Joyme Cagande, 6-foot-1 Ivy Lacsina, Princess Robles and libero Jennifer Nierva – the core of NU’s four-peat champion high school squad.
“Sa akin naman, kahit rookies sila, I still take it an advantage kasi galing naman sila sa champion team sa UAAP high school,” said Miguel, who will have a handful of veterans in Roselyn Doria, Audrey Paran and Jonni Chavez. “But on the contrary, iba pa rin naman syempre 'yung intensity ng games sa college, 'di ba?”
“I expect them na ma-put into action nila 'yung experience nila sa high school. Na kung gaano sila naging competitive sa high school, at least, mapakita nila, matulungan nila 'yung mga seniors sa campaign namin na maka-Final Four,” Miguel added.
NU may look like a puppy compared to its previous teams but if not taken seriously, the Lady Bulldogs, they will bite.
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