UAAP Volley Power Rankings Week 3: Year of the Lady Bulldogs?

2018 is the year of the dog.

According to Chinese zodiac, it said to be an unlucky year for people born under the sign of the dog. But not for the National University Lady Bulldogs, who remained perfect in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament.

Will they go all the way? Or is it too early to predict their fortune as the competition is just heating up? Check out the third week of FOX Sports Philippines Power Rankings:

1. National University Lady Bulldogs (4-0)
Last Week: #1

The Lady Bulldogs remained as the only unbeaten squad in the league after they shocked treble-seeking Lady Spikers in five sets, 26-24, 19-25, 22-25, 25-17, 16-14.

Indeed, they played like a well-oiled machine, thanks to the brilliant playmaking of Jasmine Nabor, who allowed four players to finish in double figures – Jaja Santiago (27), Risa Sato (15), Aiko Urdas (10), Audrey Paran (10).

Still, the Lady Bulldogs have to work on minimizing their errors before claiming that this is going to be their year.

Key factor: Setting

2. De La Salle University Lady Spikers (3-1)
Last Week: #2

The sleeping monster in these hungry Lady Spikers would surely wake up after suffering a sorry five-set loss to NU.

But first, Michelle Cobb has to do her job.

The reigning back-to-back champions need her to deliver a variety of plays to keep the defense guessing. Cobb has a lot options in Majoy Baron, Kim Dy, Desiree Cheng, and Tin Tiamzon who can always go for a kill if given a chance.

Key factor: Floor defense

3. Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles (2-2)
Last Week: #6

The Lady Eagles can’t simply be counted out in this race.

They may have started out flat but for Ateneo, it’s just the beginning something new. Those early setbacks served as a learning experience for them to see what’s missing.

Now, the Lady Eagles are soaring, flying. They’ve finally regained their ‘happy happy’ strong hearts, which made them display their deadly brew of size, talent, and skills.

Key factor: Blocking

4. University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses (2-2)
Last Week: #7

The Golden Tigresses have finally realized that one player isn’t enough to win the crown. It takes a collective effort.

Against Adamson, it wasn’t Sisi Rondina alone, who spewed fire at the attack zone. Dimdim Pacres and Carla Sandoval  also came in to the rescue to prove their doubters wrong.

Pacres and Sandoval fill in the void lef by Fil-Italian Milena Alessandrini and Rica Rivera in both offense and defense.

But, in the end, skipper Shannen Palec should lead the way for UST. She wasn’t appointed as its leader for no reason, after all.

Key factor: Spiking

5. Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws (2-2)
Last Week: #4

The Lady Tamaraws have what it takes to win the crown only if they will show who they really are inside the court.

Heather Guino-o has started to come out of her shell as she paced the assault for FEU when it swept UP, 25-23, 25-12, 25-19. When will the other players follow her lead?

The clocking is ticking. It’s now or never.

Key factor: Spiking

6. Adamson University Lady Falcons (2-2)
Last Week: #3

After the Lady Falcons played their best and worst games so far in this season, the future looked cloudy for them.

Against UP, four players waxed hot at the offensive end for Adamson but when it battled versus UST, it was skipper Jema Galanza alone, who fought until the end.

The Lady Falcons need to work on their consistency. Two victories aren’t enough to take back their lost pride and glory.

Key factor: Floor defense

7. University of the East Lady Warriors (0-4)
Last Week: #8

Winning a game is not an impossible job for UE.

But the Lady Warriors have to maximize their height to be able to make it to the win column. They also need skipper Roselle Baliton to provide leadership and spearhead the development of chemistry inside and outside the court.

Key factor: Floor defense

8. University of the Philippines Lady Maroons (1-3)
Last Week: #5

UP is no longer putting up a fight.

Skipper Tots Carlos has been carrying the Lady Maroons on her shoulders. Unfortunately, her squad is completely lost in transition, no thanks to its sluggish floor defense.

Will Justine Dorog solve their problem at the defensive end now that she’s back as the Lady Maroon’s libero? If not, Ayel Estranero has to adjust her playmaking styles.

Key factor: Setting

Matchpoint: Crucial Games Ahead

The UAAP women’s volleyball wars now enter into the crucial stretch of the first round. All teams already played four games to date and only one team remained unscathed.

In this episode of Matchpoint, FOX Sports Philippines discusses the exciting Wednesday matches where the battle of the birds will it off while the battle between the archers and warriors as curtain-closer.

Aerial Battle

When it is Ateneo and Adamson battling in the UAAP women’s volleyball wars, matches are usually epic.

Known to be a great defensive team, the San Marcelino-based squad usually impresses the audience and makes it hard for the other team to score with their steady floor defense.

In their last match against the Tigresses, however, the superb floor defense of the Lady Falcons was missing. They succumbed to the barrage of attacks and loaded serves bombarded to them by the Tigresses.

The Lady Eagles, meanwhile, are riding in a high-morale after scoring another win last Saturday against the Lady Warriors.

When the Lady Eagles are channeling their ‘Happy Happy’ mantra, they seem to be a deadly team. This was seen in their last two games where they ended up victorious.

While being happy, the Lady Eagles enjoy themselves inside the court and carry no pressure at all. Every time this happens, their offense and defense are on-point that it is difficult for their opponents to even stop them from scoring in all skills set.

The Katipunan-based squad needs to carry yet another happy pill in order to beat a deadly and dark horse team like Adamson.

Whose wings will spread triumphantly this Wednesday?

Stain to Perfection

DLSU’s early pristine record was stained by NU in their Sunday match-up that extended into a five-set thriller.

After the loss, the Lady Spikers were reportedly headed straight back to their gym in Taft to correct their mistakes during that game.

Despite the stain in their early record, this act shown by the defending champions is just praise-worthy. Entering their match against the Lady Warriors this Wednesday, the Lady Spikers sure have a low morale but there is an assurance that they will bounce back big.

Still winless

The Lady Warriors just could not find the winning rhythm.

In their four outings, all are in losing fashion. While the Lady Warriors lost all their games, they are showing some glimpse of improvement and brilliance in their level of play.

For one, in their last game against the Lady Eagles, the Recto-based team were able to snatch the opening set behind Shaya Adorador and Mary Ann Mendrez’ scoring spree.

What the Lady Warriors currently lack now is that winning attitude. In terms of individual talent, UE is not far from other teams. They have a good libero, an excellent outside spiker, and tall middle blockers. All they need to do is to be a solid unit and unleash those inner warriors in them, true to their school’s moniker.

Matchpoint: Who will blink first?

We’re midway through the first round of the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball games.

The Sunday showdown among four teams is exciting as two still unscathed teams face each other to determine who will keep its pristine record alive while the next opposing teams have different fates in their previous matches.

Feb. 18

2 pm DLSU vs NU

4 pm UST vs AdU

FOX Sports Philippines details the talking points for Sunday’s match-up.

Battle of the Undefeated

The Lady Bulldogs and the Lady Spikers are the remaining undefeated teams this season.

This Sunday, however, one team needs to forego that pristine record.

Both teams have equally talented players, but what will spell the difference is the decision-making of their setters.

At the start of the season, some DLSU faithful were unsure if Michelle Cobb would be the perfect replacement for legendary setter Kim Fajardo. But in their last three outings, Cobb is making a positive impact for the Taft-based squad. Her sets are on-point and her decision-making, fast.

NU’s Jasmine Nabor, on the other hand, remains impeccable. Her off-season experience with her club team proved to be of great help with her decision-making inside the court and how she orchestrates the plays is a force to be reckoned with. Add to that is her firepower when it comes to 1-2 play, which most of the time converts into a point.

Another match-up to look forward to is the battle of Jaja Santiago and Majoy Baron in the middle. It can be recalled that these two players are in hot waters last year because it was Baron who won the Season’s MVP award despite Santiago dominating a lot of individual skill sets.

At the end of the day, there has to be only one team to go home victorious? Will it be DLSU or will NU continue its one big bite winning ways.

Injury-prone UST

In their last match against the Ateneo Lady Eagles, UST’s libero Rica Rivera suffered a partial tear on her knee, which led to her ejection from that game. Hours later, the team announced that Italian Spiker Milena Allesandrini will need to sit out at least the remainder of the first round due to a recurring shoulder injury.

This is a big blow against the UST team since they are gunning for another return to the Final Four.

Sisi Rondina, meanwhile, has been spectacular in three games averaging around 23 points per game. Despite her height, Rondina carries the bulk of scoring for her team.

Her individual excellence, however, does not pay off as they only won one out of their three matches.

With injuries haunting the team, other team members need to step up already and should not rely heavily on Rondina because she could only do so much. After all, volleyball is a team sport and no one-man-show wins games all the time.

This Sunday, the Tigresses are up against a team whose core is intact and could just be deadly. Will we see another Rondina show or will she finally get ample support from her talented teammates?

Holdover No More

The Adamson Lady Falcons are nothing but brilliant in their past games.

Although they lost their opening game against the Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Falcons bounced big time and won two-straight against strong teams FEU and UP.

Their latest victims are the Fighting Maroons where they showed no mercy from the get-go until the end. Unlike the previous season, this Adamson squad is no longer a holdover team but already a competitive bunch.

Skipper Jema Galanza is getting the much-needed support from teammates in scoring, yet the captain remains deadly when it comes to scoring and defense. Her point production against the Fighting Maroons is 14 off 13 attack points.

Will the Adamson continue its good showing in Season 80 and finally end that Final Four drought?

Matchpoint: Bounce Back Saturday?

UAAP season 80 women’s volleyball wars continue this Saturday with three teams trying to come back from consecutive losses while one team wanting to continue its good fate.

In this version of Matchpoint, FOX Sports Philippines analyzes what went right and what went wrong to each of the competing teams.

Resurgence of the ‘Happy’ Mantra

The Ateneo Lady Eagles finally ended their two-game losing skid and defeated the UST Tigresses in their match last Sunday.

What is present in their match against UST that was not seen in their first two games is that ‘Happy Happy’ mantra imbibed to the team by Coach Tai.

The Lady Eagles loosely played during that match and enjoyed every point they scored, that eventually gave them their first victory of the season.

Interesting to note also is that Deanna Wong was able to utilize her middle attackers, unlike their first two games. With this excellent playmaking, the Lady Tigresses were left guessing who to defend.

As they face still winless UE Lady Warriors this Saturday, what the Lady Eagles need to do is to channel that ‘Happy Happy’ vibe in them and play as one cohesive unit just like how they played against the Tigresses; they are surely up to greater victories if that happens.

Much-improved yet still winless

The Lady Warriors are a much-improved team compared to previous seasons. We can see how hard they try just to win games.

But sometimes efforts do not always materialize.

The Recto-based squad is yet to win a match in three outings. One possible problem for the team is a steady playmaker. Coach Francis Vicente is gambling on a raw yet tall Roselle Baliton but the starting setter’s performance in the last two games is subpar which prompted Vicente to use Laizah Bendong in their previous match.

Bendong exhausted all her options during their last match against the Lady Bulldogs but still could not get the right mix of players to create the needed spark for the team.

One good thing in that match is that they were able to snatch a set against the very dangerous NU squad, which they could use as inspiration in their next game.

This Saturday, they are up against a formidable team that is the Ateneo Lady Eagles. Will they finally recover and get that first win or will they continue with their slump?

Shaking off that diesel start

In their last match against defending champions DLSU Lady Spikers, the FEU Lady Tamaraws started slow and were left trailing by o-2 sets.

They woke up just in time and won the third and fourth set to force a decider but were not able to sustain the momentum in the fifth as they succumbed to the Lady Spikers.

That loss handed them their second consecutive defeats in three outings.

This Saturday, they are raring to bounce back at the expense of the demoralized yet still deadly Fighting Maroons.

If they start slow in this game like their previous game, it would be difficult for the Lady Tamaraws to secure a win. They are a strong team and they need to realize that. What is lacking for the team now is that killer instincts among their senior players and the needed swag, to at least, intimidate their opponent.

Reception woes

The Fighting Maroons’ vulnerability in reception greatly showed in that Adamson match last Wednesday.

Calling the first set a massacre is an understatement.

Not to take anything away from Adamson, but UP just showed its weak spot which is reception. The first set tells the story when Mylene Paat scored consecutive points in the service line.

The Fighting Maroons tried to rally back in the succeeding sets to no avail as the Lady Falcons toyed on their demoralized spirit moving forward to that game.

As the Diliman-based crew faces the FEU Tamaraws this Saturday, there should be no more excuses for them. They need to address their receiving woes early this season because if not this could be another heartbreaking season for them.

DLSU keeps pristine record, gives FEU second straight loss

It was no mercy on Valentine’s day as the Lady Falcons and Lady Spikers broke their opponents’ hearts and added another victory under their belts.

The De La Salle University Lady Spikers kept its pristine record at the expense of gritty Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws in five-sets,25-22, 25-17, 24-26, 23-25, 15-7 at the San Juan Arena.

Despite squandering an early two-set lead, the Lady Spikers recovered just in time to get that win with senior Kim Dy, skipper Majoy Baron, Duke Ogunsanya and Desiree Cheng taking the scoring lead. They combined 55 points for the Taft-based squad.

Bernadeth Pons, meanwhile, continued her scoring prowess with 21 points but this number was not enough to carry her team to victory. Celine Domingo, Toni Basas, and Jeanette Villareal scored in double-digits with 12, 11, and 10 respectively in a losing fashion.

With the win, DLSU shares top spot with National University both holding a 3-0 card while FEU dropped to 1-2 slate tying the University of Sto. Tomas, University of the Philippines, and Ateneo de Manila University.

In the earlier match, the Adamson Lady Falcons made easy work of the UP Lady Maroons in straight sets, 25-9, 27-25, 25-20.

San Marcelino-based squad Adamson feasted on UP’s poor reception early in the set as they scored eight service winners in that set alone off their 17 total in the entire match.

Four Lady Falcons scored in double-digits as returning player Mylene Paat taking the charge with 15 markers, off eight service aces. Jema Galanza, Majoy Dacoron, and Chiara Permentilla added 14, 11, and 10 markers, respectively.

The lone bright spot for the Diliman-based crew was Tots Carlos who scored 12 points while Isa Molde and Jessma Ramos combined for 12 points.

The victory gives the Lady Falcons a 2-1 win-loss card at solo third spot while the Lady Maroons dropped its second straight game and are now at 1-2 win-loss card.

Matchpoint: No Love, All War

February 14 is Heart’s Day.

In the UAAP volleyball, however, this is but another game day for four teams as they march into the war zone to get that W.

In this episode of Matchpoint, FOX Sports Philippines details talking points about the teams facing each other on Valentine’s Day.

Flopping Maroons?

Protecting the lead is one of the perennial problems of the Fighting Maroons since last season.

They will play with too much eagerness to win only to succumb in the latter part of each set, and eventually lose steam.

This problem was seen yet again during their sorry lost against defending champion La Salle last Saturday.

The Diliman-based crew was leading by as much as six points in the third set, mounting a comeback from a 0-2 set deficit, only to once again flop at the crucial juncture of the set.

The Lady Spikers behind setter’s Mich Cobb bombarded the Lady Maroons with loaded serves and eventually finishing them off in a straight-sets fashion.

If this problem persists for the Lady Maroons, this would be a difficult season for them.

Dark Horse

The Adamson Lady Falcons could just be this season’s dark horse.

Its bench is deep and the starters are of high-caliber with the addition of Eli Soyud in the line-up.

Skipper Jema Galanza is also back on her scoring ways, doing most of the damage during their morale-boosting win against the Lady Tamaraws last Saturday. Her monstrous performance during that game — where she scored a whopping 26 points — was too much to be handled by the Lady Tams.

If she continues to play that way, and her support crew starts pouring points for the team, this team will be dangerous moving forward.

As they take on the hungry Fighting Maroons this Wednesday, the Lady Falcons need not be rattled but only follow the game plan for this game.

All Hits, No Misses

Defending Champions DLSU is still unscathed in two outings.

Despite the departure of prized setter Kim Fajardo, Mich Cobb is stepping up big time to fill in the shoes left by the legendary KAFtain.

Cobb’s performance in two games is by far great. Her sets and decision-making are on-point and she was able to utilize all her spikers, making it more difficult for their opponent to read what they will do next.

But this Valentine’s Day, the Lady Spikers are up into a real challenge. They will face a deadly FEU Lady Tams team, whose team composition is pretty much intact.

Will they continue their winning ways or will the Lady Tams put a halt to their excellent start.

TAM-ed TAMs

When you look at the Tam’s line-up this season, you can’t help but say this team is going to be a team-to-beat.

But in their game against the Lady Falcons last Saturday, the team could not sustain its tenacity as it succumbed to the San Marcelino squad in a five-set thriller.

Bernadeth Pons and Toni Rose Basas provided the needed spark plug for the team, but it was not enough as Adamson had Jema Galanza’s scoring spree rolling.

The good thing in that game, however, was it could go either way. The Lady Tams could have won that game but they were not able to find the right potion to contain Galanza from scoring.

This Valentine’s Day, they are going to face one of their rivals, the De La Salle squad. Pons and Basas are expected to lead the team, but other team members should step up big time in order to score an upset against the defending champs.

Will the Tams finally find the right mix of players against the Lady Spikers or will it be yet again a heart-breaking loss?

UAAP Volleyball Power Rankings Week 2: Biting Bigtime

Only two schools kept their unblemished records intact as the 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament heats up.

Meanwhile, those who have the ability to fly didn’t waste the chance to finally pluck into win column. Who soared high and who fell prey in this week’s Power Rankings?:

1. National University Lady Bulldogs (3-0)
Last Week: #1

NU is on a roll as skipper Jaja Santiago, who averages 21.7 points per match, flashed her scoring prowess in the Lady Bulldogs’ first three assignments.

Santiago’s connection with playmaker Jasmine Nabor has been very effective for the Sampaloc-based squad. But, Nabor has to bear in mind that she still has other options in Aiko Urdas and Risa Sato to keep the defense guessing.

Also, the Lady Bulldogs must cut down their errors. They’ve been giving away free points off errors, prompting their opponents to push them to the brink.

After all, they don’t want the reigning champions to end their blazing streak, like how De La Salle did last season.

2. De La Salle University Lady Spikers (2-0)
Last Week: #2

A new hero rises for treble-seeking De La Salle University as playmaker Michelle Cobb slowly carves her own name.

Cobb has turned doubters into believers when she fired clutch string of aces to help the Lady Spikers escaped the gutsy University of the Philippines, 25-21, 25-22, 26-24, over the weekend at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.

She, however, must double her efforts in orchestrating the fluid and well-balanced offense of the Lady Spikers. Nonetheless, Majoy Baron, Kianna Dy, Desiree Cheng, and Tin Tiamzon surely got her back as they remain hungry for pride and glory.

3. Adamson University Lady Falcons (1-1)
Last Week: #8

Started from the bottom, now they’re here (at the top 3).

Adamson finally lived up to the expectations when it posted a thrilling five-set win over Far Eastern University Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Center.

Skipper Jema Galanza, who dislocated her ankle four months ago, regained her deadly form as she finished a ‘triple-double’ for the Lady Falcons with 26 points, 15 digs, and 17 receptions.

Returning middle hitter Mylene Paat was also impressive with 13 points off four kill blocks while Joy Dacoron, and Chiara Permentilla got 12 and 11, respectively.

Now, the big question is: Can the Lady Falcons sustain the momentum?

4. Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws (1-1)
Last Week: #4

As mentioned in the first week of FOX Sports Philippines’ Power Rankings, FEU would need the production of Jerrili Malabanan and Czarina Carandang to improve their chances this season.

They have to come out of their shells.

But, before that, the Lady Tamaraws also have to address their setter woes. Both Gel Cayuna and Kyle Negrito were struggling in running FEU’s engine.

Head coach George Pascua has to turn things around to translate his wards’ strength into Ws before time runs out.

5. University of the Philippines Lady Maroons (1-1)
Last Week: #5

Pushing De La Salle to its limits completely showed how far can the developing Lady Maroons go this season.

Sure, they have the firepower orchestrated by leading Best Setter Ayel Estranero. But, first, they need libero Josette Thai to act as a hungry wolf at the backline for defense.

6. Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles (1-2)
Last Week: #6

Many are expecting Ateneo de Manila to soar higher after snapping its two-game skid with a 16-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-23, win against University of Santo Tomas.

The hard-hitting troika of Bea De Leon, Jho Maraguinot and Kat Tolentino pumped in 11 points apiece for the Lady Eagles while Jules Samonte added 10.

But it was Dani Ravena who shone the brightest as she provided much-improved floor defense for Ateneo, finishing with 10 digs and 10 receptions.

True enough, she was the key to end the losing slump.

7. University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses (1-2)
Last Week: #3

UST suffered another major blow in its campaign as Fil-Italian rookie Milena Alessandrini could miss the remainder of the first round due to a shoulder injury.

It was announced shortly after Rica Rivera went down with a knee injury against Ateneo over the weekend.

With that, Sisi Rondina would really need the support of Tin Francisco, Dimdim Pacres, and skipper Shannen Palec both in offense and defense.

Will they reach their peak on time?

8. University of the East Lady Warriors (0-3)
Last Week: #7

UE may have lost its first three games but the important thing is the Lady Warriors didn’t go down without putting a fight.

In fact, they gave unbeaten NU a scare in their four-set conquest through taking advantage to their opponent’s errors.

These Lady Warriors will surely be more dangerous in the coming days if they will take every game as a learning experience.

All-time UAAP First 6

Philippine collegiate volleyball just gets better and better every year.

With the emergence of TV broadcast of games, the once unpopular sport now gets a large following.

Even before the rise in popularity of college volleyball, there were already athletes who made a name for themselves in the sport.

The UAAP, for one, has been a league where future national team players are first seen. Players come and go in the UAAP but the legacy left by these players are etched in its rich history.

Now that volleyball already created a euphoria for itself, FOX Sports Philippines took a trip down memory lane and made a profile of possible current and former UAAP best players that can form the nucleus of the league’s dream team.

Open Spiker

Alyssa Valdez (ADMU)

When we speak of the open spiker position, one mainstay comes to mind always: Alyssa Valdez.

Valdez is the best open spiker in the country today, no doubt about that. As proof to her brilliance in the post, two club teams abroad invited her where she was able to show the Filipino kind of volleyball.

Valdez is a complete player — she can spike, block, receive, and dig. In fact, she has already won almost all individual awards in the UAAP and was named a three-time season MVP of the league.

During her stint with the Ateneo, Valdez carried the team in two UAAP crowns including a historic first-ever title in Season 76, ending her school’s UAAP volleyball championship drought.

Valdez is currently a member of the national team and is playing in different leagues here and abroad.

Venus Bernal (UST)

Even before the emergence of a pool of talented open spikers in the UAAP, Venus Bernal has already carved a name for herself.

Known as the “butterfly” for her patented butterfly-like approach, Bernal is a solid attacker who can score from all corners of the court.

Her kills are lethal that even great floor defenders during her time could not defend well.

Bernal won the most valuable player and best scorer plums in the 69th season of the UAAP where her team also took home the championship.

After her college stint, Bernal has not been seen in action in the professional league for six years until the staging of the Philippine Superliga where she bagged the first ever MVP plum of the league.

She eventually retired, saying it is time for young gunners to experience the volleyball limelight. Bernal now works as a full-time corporate employee at a water company.

Runners-up: Manila Santos, Myla Pablo

Middle Blocker

Mary Jean Balse (UST)

Mary Jean Balse is the other half of UST’s “double B” tandem; one being Venus Bernal.

She is part of the UST team that won the championship in Season 69. She is also part of the national team that won the Bronze medal in the 23rd Southeast Asian game, the last volleyball medal the country has produced to date.

When Balse’s name is mentioned, one thing that fans would remember about her is how she effectively carries her team apart from her scoring prowess. She has that swag that is not irritating and her cheerfulness inside the court is contagious.

Balse is a mainstay in the national team and has already played in several leagues inside and outside the country.

She now juggles her time in playing the sport she loves since she is already a family woman and a full-time Philippine Army cadet.

 Jaja Santiago (NU)

When you are tall and at the same time you have an impressive skills set, volleyball will just be a breeze for you.

That is what Jaja brings to the table: her towering height and world-class skills.

The three-time UAAP best attacker undeniably is one of the best players the Philippines has. In fact, she has been invited to play for a club team in Thailand but she declined in the meantime to finish her prior commitments to the National University volleyball squad.

Jaja is the younger sister of Dindin Santiago, who like her is also tall and talented. Through the years, Jaja has vastly improved her skill set even making her a deadlier athlete in the middle blocker post as she age. She has represented the country in international volleyball tilts and has played in various leagues in the local scene.

Runners-up: Jacq Alarca (DLSU), Dindin Santiago (NU)

 

Setter

Kim Fajardo (DLSU)

Kim Fajardo is the play-maker all spikers want to be teammates with.

A three-time best UAAP setter, Fajardo is an excellent setter who can confuse and toy on her opponent’s defense with her fast sets and exceptional play-making.

Fajardo’s volleyball IQ is spectacular as she can adjust to whatever kind of sets her spikers want. Aside from her setting prowess, Fajardo also has a deadly serve, which can send receivers guessing where the ball will land.

Her one-two plays are also a force to be reckoned with and gave her that attacking-setter label.

Runner-up: Janet Serafica

Opposite Spiker

Aiza Maizo (UST)

If there is one word to describe Aiza Maizo’s collegiate career, it would be amazing.

Originally recruited to fill the setter post for UST, Maizo has embarked a name for herself in the opposite position.
She was, in fact, dubbed as the closer since when she goes for an attack, it is almost a sure point for the team and she has that legacy to close out games for her team.

Maizo is also no stranger to winning individual awards. During her college stint with the Tigresses, Maizo has won several awards including two-time best scorer.

Her individual brilliance did not stop there as she also excelled in local leagues earning her several MVP plums in both V-league and the Philippine Superliga.

Now a family woman, Maizo is still on top of her game, owing it to her five-year-old son as inspiration.

Runner-up: Michelle Gumabao (DLSU)

 

Libero

Dawn Macandili (DLSU)

Dawn Macandili is nothing but spectacular in the libero post.

She will run, dive, and sacrifice her body just to save any ball and not let it hit the floor.

Her daredevil saves has won her second best libero in the Asian Seniors tilt last year and earned the nods of many international coaches.

Macandili is the reigning UAAP best receiver and is currently playing steadily in the season 80 of the UAAP.

She sends chills and applauses to the spectators whenever she chases and saves an almost impossible to save the ball and even convert it to a point for her team. Her excellent libero skills will surely open many opportunities in the future.

Who knows she might be the next athlete to play in a club team abroad?

Runner-up: Lizlee Ann Gata (Adamson)

Ateneo soars into win column

After suffering back-to-back losses, Ateneo de Manila University finally made it inside the winner’s circle of the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament.

Ateneo brushed off a shaky start to eke out a pulsating, 16-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-23, victory over University of Santo Tomas (UST) Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Center.

The hard-hitting troika of Bea De Leon, Jho Maraguinot and Kat Tolentino pumped in 11 points apiece for the Lady Eagles while Jules Samonte added 10.

With the win, the Lady Eagles shared an identical 1-2 win-loss card with the Golden Tigresses, who lost starting libero Rica Rivera early in the opening frame after suffering a meniscus tear on her right knee.

Sisi Rondina nailed 22 points off 19 kills and three aces while Milena Alessandrini and Tin Francisco got 11 and 10 markers, respectively, on a losing effort for UST.

Meanwhile, National University recovered a second set meltdown to pull off a 25-15, 18-25, 25-23, 25-19, win over dangerous University of the East in the first game.

The Lady Bulldogs banked on the hot smashes of skipper Jaja Santiago, who scored 23 points off 18 attacks, four kill blocks and an ace while Roselyn Doria had 12 markers.

They gained a solo lead with a perfect 3-0 record.

Mary Anne Mendrez and Shaya Adorador had 11 points for the Lady Warriors, who are still listless in three games.

Kim marvels at Michelle’s magic touch

Former De La Salle University star setter Kim Fajardo couldn’t help but marvel at her successor in Michelle Cobb, who displayed a heroic act when the Lady Spikers escaped from feisty University of the Philippines in the 80th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.

Fajardo was sending out series of tweets before, during, and after the epic battle to show support to her ex-teammates, who played catch-up the whole match before Cobb put on a masterful finish to remain unscathed in this contest.

The sophomore playmaker fired three straight missiles from the service box to seal the win for the defending back-to-back champions, 25-21, 25-22, 26-24. She finished the night with 10 points anchored on seven service aces on top of 32 excellent sets.

With that, she has once again made heads turn – including Fajardo.

Cobb, for one, was quick to deflect all the credits, saying that she’s only doing her job especially when it mattered the most.

“Pinanghahawakan ko na they trust me and na ayoko yun sayangin,” she said. “Syempre as a setter ikaw ‘yung aasahan ng team kasi ikaw ‘yung magdi-distribute, so the trust they give me, I don’t want to waste it.”

She knows that it’s still a long way to go.

And nothing comes easy if she won’t work hard and prove herself.

“Ang dami ko pang matututunan, ang dami ko pang situations na pagdadaanan, and I think ‘yun talaga yung magde-define kung gaano ka ka-mature as a player,” she said. “Now, two games in pa lang naman this season, so I don’t think I’m mature (enough).”

After all, Fajardo was beaming with pride seeing Cobb fighting her heart out — that’s how legends support legends.