UAAP volley battles erupt in a few days

February 11, 2020
UAAP volleyball coaches
The UAAP volleyball coaches gather for the traditional ‘unity’ pose during a press conference yesterday.

NOT even the threat of the novel coronavirus could stop the UAAP from holding its second semester centerpiece sport of volleyball, which begins on Saturday.

Executive director Rebo Saguisag yesterday said that the league is ready to deal with the current situation, where the nCoV threat has caused the disruption or cancellation of several sports events in the country.

“All systems go,” said Saguisag.  “Rest assured that the UAAP is committed to ensuring the safety of our student-athletes, the coaches, and the officials.”

It’s play on.

Ateneo and National University will set in motion their title-retention bids in the women’s and men’s division, respectively, this weekend.

The Lady Eagles will face a retooled but tall La Salle roster in an early rivalry game at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Bulldogs, powered by several players from the historic silver medal-winning team in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, take on Adamson at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

After enjoying a relatively injury-free season,  Ateneo volleyball coach Oliver Almadro knows that things won’t be easy without Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag, who have completed their playing eligibility, as well as setter Deanna Wong, who will sit out this year.

“We’re doing a lot of leveling up for the UAAP.  For the women’s, it is the most competitive year so let’s enjoy it,” said Almadro. 

The decision of Kat Tolentino to make a one final run, and the return of Jho Maraguinot and Jamie Lavitoria will be a huge boost for the Lady Eagles to remain in the throne.

Despite the graduation of several key vital cogs from last season’s title run led by Bryan Bagunas, NU men’s volleyball Dante Alinsunurin believes that his troops have the capability of completing a three-peat.

“Prepared naman kami para idepensa yung championship namin,” said Alinsunurin, who was satisfied with the equal billing that the UAAP put in women’s and men’s volleyball.

It was Alinsunurin who steered the Philippines to its best finish in SEA Games men’s volleyball in 28 years.

“Sobrang happy and nagpapasalamat sa sitwasyon namin ngayon, sa volleyball, ’di lang sa women’s. Kasama na rin ang men’s team sa aabangan ng mga tao,” said Alinsunurin.

The league previously announced that the new volleyball schedule will be men-women in the morning, and men-women in the afternoon.

UAAP Season 82 president Em Fernandez of host Ateneo also announced that the league will be implementing the challenge system starting this year.

“During the SEA Games we also saw the challenges that was implemented, we will also implement the challenge system during this year. We want to uplift not just women’s volleyball but also men’s volleyball,” said Fernandez.