MVP Bryan Bagunas wishes to play in other countries

After achieving a back-to-back UAAP championship for his collegiate team, National University main gunner Bryan Bagunas wishes to play in other countries.

In an interview with FOX Sports Philippines moments after they won Game 1 of their finals match against Far Eastern University, the UAAP Season 81 most valuable player bared that it is his long-time dream to show his arsenals in the international arena.

“Siyempre gusto kong maglaro sa ibang bansa. Kahit sino namang player papangarapin iyon,” he said.

Just like Ateneo’s Marck Espejo, who now plays with a club team in Japan, the Batangueno would also want to prove that Filipino male volleyball athletes are at par with international athletes.

“Kagaya ni Marck, gusto ko rin makapag-try na maglaro sa ibang bansa para ipakita na hindi lang pang local ‘yung mga Pilipino, na kaya nating makipagsabayan sa international competitions,” Bagunas said.

But before that Bagunas remains focused as he will suit up for the Philippine Air Force in the Spikers’ Turf sometime in June.

Despite his rather busy scheduele, Bagunas says that he still makes time to train with the national team as the team prepares for the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games later this year.

“Sa ngayon maglalaro ako for Air Force sa Spikers’ Turf pero nagsisimula na rin naman kaming mag-training sa national team para sa darating na SEA Games kasi dito sa atin gaganapin,” he said.

“Yes nag-umpisa na kami [mag-training] noong April pa lang. Everytime na mayroong training nandoon talaga ako kasi siyempre pangalan na ng bansa ang dadalhin so kailangang puspusang ‘yung preparation,” Bagunas added.

 

As he hangs his collegiate jersey, the 21-year-old open spiker led his team in Game 2 of the finals as they achieved a back-to-back crown.

Bagunas scored 35 points in their four-set victory over FEU, averaging 67.43 success rate in spikes (33 of 49). He also had 12 digs along with nine excellent receptions for overall performance.

This, though, did not come without recognition as he was awarded the finals MVP. He earlier bagged the season’s MVP, first best outside spiker, and best server plums.

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Volleybelles who had painful collegiate exits

Volleyball players come and go. Unfortunately, not all of them have experienced a fitting end to their collegiate careers in the UAAP tournament.

At the tail-end of the elimination and the final four rounds, we saw graduating players from each team bowed and wept after they failed to advance to the next rounds.

The likes of NU’s Rose Doria, UE’s Kath Arado, and Judith Abil, Adamson’s Joy Dacoron and Eli Soyud, UP’s Ayel Estranero and Marian Buitre have done their best to lift their teams but all efforts went to nothing.

Just a few weeks back, we saw both DLSU and FEU – last year’s finalist – got eliminated by their respective foes in the semis round, and alongside this their graduating players not making it for possible redemption.

One of which is La Salle’s skipper Des Cheng.

Down two sets to nothing, Cheng and the rest of the Lady Spikers tried to extend their semifinals series against the University of Sto. Tomas but eventually fell down in five sets.

It was a heartbreak for Cheng, whose team was eyeing for a rare four-peat in the tournament. On the last point, the DLSU captain huddled her squad, seemingly holding back her tears.

But Cheng is not alone.

There are a handful of players – some are the biggest names in the Philippine volleyball now- who have experienced the same narrative on the conclusion of their UAAP journey.

Let us take a look on some UAAP stars who had a painful collegiate career exit.

1. Alyssa Valdez, Ateneo De Manila University

 

 

After leading the Ateneo Lady Eagles to back-to-back crowns in Seasons 76 and 77, the Valdez-led squad relinquished the throne to their archrivals, DLSU Lady Spikers, in her swan song in Season 78.

The Lady Eagles managed to tie the finals series in a convincing five-setter win in Game 2 but succumbed in the rubber match.

2. Abigail Maraño, De La Salle University

It was an almost fairy tale ending to Tiyang Aby’s last playing year until the Lady Eagles pulled off the historical Cinderella run in Season 76.

Maraño and the Lady Spikers were almost at the finish line but Ateneo was able to beat them thrice in the finals.

3. Dindin Santiago, National University

 

Armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, fans were expecting for a DLSU-NU finals match up in Season 76.

But Ateneo spoiled their campaign and sent Dindin Santiago and her team crashing back to earth when they were toppled twice in the stepladder semifinals.

4. Kathy Bersola, UP Lady Maroons

Along with Nicole Tiamzon and Pia Gaizer, Kathy Bersola missed the semifinal round in their final playing year in Season 79.

After starting out strong with four consecutive wins, the UP Lady Maroons cruised to a series of losses, which cost them the final four slot.

5. Aiza Maizo, University of Santo Tomas

 

After winning the championship in Season 72, the UST Tigresses led by graduating Aiza Maizo failed to score a back-to-back win against La Salle. The España-based squad dropped two games in a row in the Season 73 finals series.

6. Rachel Ann Daquis, Far Eastern University

The Queen Tamaraw left the FEU fence as a bridesmaid to Season 71 champions, DLSU Lady Spikers.

Daquis and the Lady Tamaraws convincingly won Game 1 of the Finals but the Shaira Gonzalez’ injury changed everything for the Morayta-based squad.

These players may have left UAAP with a broken heart. But their volleyball careers did not end at the collegiate level. They have embodied the popular saying: fall seven times, stand up eight.

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Richard Solis rallies teammates to step up in time for Game 2 to extend finals series

Far Eastern University (FEU) skipper Richard Solis yet again topscored the Tamaraws’ side in their sorry Finals Game 1 loss against defending champions National University in four sets.

RELATED – UAAP: NU draws first blood, inches closer to back-to-back men’s crown

The opposite hitter poured in 17 points from 15 attacks and two aces in losing fashion.

Although they had a strong start where they won the opening set, 21-25, the Morayta squad could not carry the momentum in the succeeding sets.

Solis underscored that his team was not able to have the finishing punch, especially during the tail end of the second and third sets where they were leading in the earlier part.

The opposite hitter got ample support from JP Bugaoan who chipped in 14 points but unlike the National University side where four players scored in double digits, FEU had no other players who achieved the feat.

One of their main gunner Jude Garcia also saw a dwindling performance where he only scored nine points.

“Teamwork yung nagdala sa amin sa panalo nung first set. Naging maganda yung galaw ng team,” he told FOX Sports Philippines after the loss.

“Nung second and third sets, kinapos lang kami sa dulo. Kulang kami sa endgame kaya nakuha ng NU yung Game One,” he added.

This, however, is already a thing in the past for the veteran Solis.

He vows to bounce back come second game and urges his teammates to do their part in order for them to extend the series, and eventually win the championship they last won in Season 74.

“Siyempre hindi ako titigil na magtrabaho para sa FEU. Kinakailangan ko lang yung tulong ng mga kasama ko kasi team event to. Walang magagawa yung isa kung hindi nagtrabaho lahat,” he said.

Game 2 of the finals will be played at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Wednesday.

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Bagunas on winning the MVP and three individual awards: ‘I’m super blessed’

In his swan song, National University open hitter Bryan Bagunas was able to achieve what former Ateneo de Manila University standout Marck Espejo attained last season – win the most valuable player plum while racking three more individual awards.

Last season, Espejo won crowned MVP and received three individual awards: best scorer, best attacker, and best server.

This year, it’s Bagunas’ time to shine as he was adjudged season’s MVP, first best outside spiker, best scorer, and best server.

This after the Batangas native led the NU squad to a finals appearance as they finished the elimination rounds with a 13-1 record.

After the elimination rounds, the graduating open hitter emerged as the top scorer with 285 points built from 245 spikes, 21 aces, and 19 blocks with an average of 20.35 points per game.

He also capped the best spiker race with 53.49 percent efficiency and top server with 0.47 ace per frame.

But amid all these awards, the Batangueno only wants one thing: the championship.

“Para po sa akin mas importante ‘yung championship kaysa sa individual awards,” Bagunas told FOX Sports Philippines after their four-set Game 1 win over Far Eastern University.

RELATED – UAAP: NU draws first blood, inches closer to back-to-back men’s crown

He, however, is thankful that all his hard work during the elimination round got paid off by the awards.

“Talagang sobrang blessed ko kasi hindi ko naman ineexpect na makukuha ko iyon. Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga coaching staff and sa mga teammates ko kasi kung wala naman sila hindi ko naman talaga makukuha ‘yung mga awards na iyon,” he said.

Scoring 18 points in their victory over FEU which puts them a win away from defending their title, Bagunas said he will do everything to win the back-to-back crown, not for himself but the entire NU community.

“Siguro talagang ibubuhos ko na kung ano talaga ang laro ko. Siyempre iaalay ko ‘yun para sa NU kasi last playing year ko na. And gusto kong makapag-iwan ng history sa NU,” he said.

Up next for him is a stint with the national team in time for the country’s hosting of the Southeast Asian Games, and he vowed to do even better since this time the country’s name is at stake.

“Everytime na mayroong training nandoon talaga ako kasi siyempre pangalan na ng bansa ang dadalhin so kailangang puspusang ‘yung preparation,” he said.

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NU draws first blood, inches closer to back-to-back men’s crown

National University survived a slow start to fend off gutsy Far Eastern University, 21-25, 25-23, 25-23, 25-, in Game 1 of the men’s volleyball tournament finals at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The victory puts the Bulldogs a win away from successfully defending their crown and achieving a back-to-back championship they last reached in Seasons 75 and 76.

It was a total team effort for the NU side as four players scored in double digits with presumptive most valuable player awardee Bryan Bagunas leading the charge with 18 points off 16 attacks, one block, and an ace.

Opposite hitter James Natividad chipped in 16 points while Kim Malabunga and Madzlan Gampong each had 10.

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Rondina, Laure lead Season 81 awardees as MVP and ROY

University of Sto. Tomas’ main gunners in senior Sisi Rondina and rookie Eya Laure is set to lead the awardees of UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament as the most valuable player and rookie of the year, respectively.

After topping the best scorer race with 259 total points in the eliminations and ranking second and ninth in spiking and digging, the fifth year open hitter Rondina is the runaway MVP candidate, according to several sources with the UAAP board.

This is the second time that the Cebuana became the league leader in terms of scoring as she was also best scorer the previous season, where her team placed seventh in the standings – their worst in recent memory.

As she is poised to be named MVP, Rondina became the second player to bag both MVP plums in the beach and indoor volleyball tournaments in the same season. FEU’s Wendy Anne Semana achieved the same feat in Season 70.

Sensational rookie Laure, meanwhile, topped the spiking category with 35.90 percent efficiency while cracking second in the scoring race with 230 points, 29 points shy away from teammate Rondina.

The Golden Tigresses are seeking to win back the title which they last won in Season 72 as they face the Lady Eagles in best-of-three finals, commencing this Saturday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

 

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Kyle Negrito on playing her final year: ‘No Regrets’

Two days after they bowed down to Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) in their do-or-die semifinals battle, Far Eastern University (FEU) setter Kyle Negrito bade farewell to her UAAP career, teammates, and supporters.

In an Instagram post, the graduating setter wrote that she has no regrets in choosing and playing her final year with the Lady Tamaraws.

View this post on Instagram

As the late Mr. Stark says, “Part of the journey is the end” and this is it, the end of my UAAP journey. What a ride. To my beloved FEU. Salamat sa pagtitiwala at suporta sa loob ng 5 taon. Nothing will ever beat this experience that I had with you. It was a privilege representing the green and gold and I will forever be deeply indebted to you, my dear alma matter. To the fans who became friends and family. Thank you for cheering your hearts out and for fighting with us until the end. I am forever grateful. And to the best team in this world, the FEU Women’s Volleyball Team. I want you to know that you are all amazing, my co-seniors @jerrili33 and @heatherguinoo thank you for the one last adventure. No regrets. From the bottom of my heart, I love you all so much. ♥️ This is Kyle Negrito, FEU WVT #12, signing off! #ontothenext

A post shared by kyle negrito 🌙 (@kylenegrito) on

She likewise took the time to thank all the fans who trusted and joined the journey of the team in its UAAP stint.

“As the late Mr. Stark says, “Part of the journey is the end” and this is it, the end of my UAAP journey. What a ride,” Negrito said.

“To my beloved FEU. Salamat sa pagtitiwala at suporta sa loob ng 5 taon. Nothing will ever beat this experience that I had with you. It was a privilege representing the green and gold and I will forever be deeply indebted to you, my dear alma matter,” she added.

More than being their source of cheer and strength, Negrito bared that some FEU fans eventually became family and friends.

“To the fans who became friends and family. Thank you for cheering your hearts out and for fighting with us until the end. I am forever grateful,” she said.

Just like any other graduating senior, the playmaker lauded her team and fellow seniors Jer Malabanan and Heather Guino-o for a gallant UAAP Season 81 stand.

“And to the best team in this world, the FEU Women’s Volleyball Team. I want you to know that you are all amazing, my co-seniors @jerrili33 and @heatherguinoo thank you for the one last adventure. No regrets,” she said.

Negrito capped off her UAAP career as fifth best setter averaging 4.69 sets per frame. She is also the second best server averaging 0.45 ace per set.

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#ParaSaUSTe: Sisi Rondina urges Thomasian community to watch their finals battle against Ateneo

Graduating player Sisi Rondina urged the entire Thomasian community to come and watch their finals match against the Ateneo de Manila University this Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Back in the finals after an eight-year drought, the do-it-all spiker seeks to put the Golden Tigresses back to the UAAP women’s volleyball relevance. UST last won the crown in Season 72 during the time of the legendary Aiza Maizo, Angeli Tabaquero, and Rhea Dimaculangan.

The Golden Tigresses are the second-winningest team in the UAAP with 16 crowns under their belt. As they gun for another shot at the crown, Rondina rallied the UST community to support the team in this undertaking.

In an Instagram post, the open hitter bared that they could not do it by themselves.

“MGA TOMASINO! Ngayong Sabado na ang Finals Game #1 versus the Ateneo Lady Eagles. Sa paparating na laban, hindi namin ‘to kakayanin kung kami lang ang sasabak,” Rondina wrote.

 

“Samahan niyo kaming lumaban. Mag-cheer ng pinakamalakas niyong #GoUSTe at isigaw natin na #KamiNaman! Tayo naman!” she added.

 

Even before the season began, Rondina has already vowed that she will do all within her power to bring back UST to the finals, and eventually win the long-awaited crown not for herself but for all Thomasians.

After two rounds of eliminations, Rondina emerged as the top scorer with 259 points. She is likewise the second best spiker and ninth best digger.

Rondina is poised to win the most valuable player (MVP) for this season, but in several of her interviews, this is not her main goal. For her, the championship is more important than individual awards.

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Petron remains to be the team to beat in All-Filipino Conference amid losing some key players

Amid losing some key players this coming conference in June, Petron Blaze Spikers remain to be a potent force as they gun for back-to-back crowns in the All-Filipino iteration of the Philippine Superliga.

Since it is All-Filipino season, the Blaze Spikers will miss the services of imports Khat Bell and Steph Niemer, who were instrumental in their Grand Prix title-defense.

Prized libero Pia Gaiser, meanwhile, is set to leave the team to pursue her medical studies this year.

But while this may be the case, Petron has already found replacements to fill in the void.

University of Sto. Tomas (UST) do-it-all spiker Sisi Rondina and Far Eastern University’s defense specialist Buding Duremdes and hitter Chin Basas are tipped to make a return on the Blaze Spikers’ roster once UAAP season ends.

This development is shared no less than by Petron head coach Shaq de los Santos in a forum hosted by the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at Amelie Hotel on Tuesday.

“Actually, we already have a list of players to add. These players are just ‘simple’ players,” he said. “Sisi Rondina, Buding Duremdes and Chin Basas are already on our lists. We will activate them in the All-Filipino.”

With this development, Petron is pretty much intact as they still have Aiza Maizo-Pontillas, Rhea Dimaculangan, Mika Reyes, Denden Lazaro, Ces Molina, Bernadeth Pons, among others, in their line-up.

They, however, will be in a serious title-retention bid as other teams are poised to beef up their line-up.

Meanwhile, a new team in Marinerang Pilipina has joined the league, which now makes it a nine-team battle.

University of the East’s Judith Abil and Seth Rodriguez and Adamson’s Chiara Permentiall will banner the Lady Skippers while champion coach Vilet Ponce de Leon will call in the shots for the new team.

RELATED – PSL: New team Marinerang Pilipina to debut in All-Filipino Conference

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New team Marinerang Pilipina to debut in All-Filipino Conference

A new team will debut in the Philippine Superliga All-Filipino Conference this June.

Known as the Marinerang Pilipina, the Lady Skippers will be mentored by champion coach Vilet Ponce-De Leon, who steered Foton to a 2016 Grand Prix title.

Also helping Ponce-De Leon in calling the shots are mentors Ronald Dulay and Rico De Guzman.

With the entry of the Marinerang Pilipina in the PSL, there are now nine competing teams with Petron and F2 Logistics still the top teams to beat. Other teams are Cignal, Foton, PLDT, Sta. Lucia, Generika Ayala, and UVC.

Veterans Ivy Remulla and Ers Iratay will headline the team along with young gunners from the collegiate ranks like UE’s Judith Abil and Seth Rodriguez, Adamson’s Chiara Permentilla, and San Beda’s Cesca Racraquin.

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Alyssa Valdez delighted to see both her high school and college teams in the finals

If there is one person who is beaming with pride and happiness with the result of the UAAP season 81 final four rounds which saw the Ateneo de Manila University and the University of Santo Tomas moving to the championship round, it would be no less Alyssa Valdez.

As we all know by now, the Phenom is a product of the UST high school volleyball program, where she won a three-peat crown and numerous individual awards such as rookie of the year, best scorer, best attacker, and most valuable player.

The now 25-year-old spiker eventually took her talents to the Katipunan squad in her collegiate years, where she was able to steer her squad to back-to-back titles in Season 76 and 77.

RELATED – UAAP: Ateneo inches closer to crown, tames FEU in do-or-die game

Right after Ateneo tamed Far Eastern University in their do-or-die semis match-up earlier today, Valdez took to Twitter to celebrate the feat, and congratulate both her alma maters for making it to the championship round.

It is going to be the first time that Ateneo and UST will slug it out in a best-of-three finals match-up in recent memory. Game 1 of which will happen on Saturday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

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MPBL Update: Leo Najorda spotted at Bataan Risers’ practice

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VETERAN forward Leo Najorda is one among the players vying for a spot for the Bataan Risers team preparing for the coming MPBL season.

Multi-titled coach Jong Uichico confirmed the news to FOX Sports Philippines.

A member of the All-MPBL First Team, Najorda was a key figure in Davao Occidental’s championship run before the Tigers lost to eventual champion San Juan Knights in a thrilling best-of-three championship series in the recent MPBL Datu Cup.

“He attended the practice kanina, but wala pa rin talaga kaming line up,” Uichico said in a telephone interview.

If Najorda makes the squad, he will become the latest ex-PBA player to join the Zetapro-backed Risers.

Last week, Jai Reyes, another All-MPBL Second Team member, signed up with Bataan.

Uichico added that they are still on the process of selecting players for the coming season.

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Ateneo inches closer to crown, tames FEU in do-or-die game

After missing the finals round last season, top-seeded Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles are back as they dismantled pesky Far Eastern University in their do-or-die semis faceoff, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 25-14, held at the Filoil Flying V Center.

The win gives Ateneo a shot at the crown as they face the hungry University of Santo Tomas in best-of-three finals of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.

It was in Season 77 that the Katipunan squad last won the championship after sweeping then four-peat seeking De La Salle University Lady Spikers in the finals.

Kat Tolentino topscored the Ateneo side with 19 points built from 17 attacks and two block points.

 

Both Ateneo and FEU traded blows in the second set before FEU’s senior Jer Malabanan unleashed two consecutive attacks which cut through the opponent’s blockers, 23-20.

Ateneo’s Van Gandler’s serve then went out handing FEU the set, 25-21.

Game 1 of the finals between the Lady Eagles and the Golden Tigresses begin on Saturday.

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