La Salle remains team to beat in UAAP volleyball tourney, say rivals
By Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines – The De La Salle Lady Archers remain as the team to beat when the UAAP Season 75 volleyball tournament unfolds this Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Archers star skipper Cha Cruz played out his final year last season but it won’t take away the fact that the two-time defending champions still boast a formidable core.
“La Salle is still the team to beat. They have the experience,” said University of Santo Tomas setter Loren Lantin during the PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate Tuesday.
“La Salle pa din ang malakas this season,” echoed National University’s Dindin Santiago, who will finally suit up for the Bulldogs after serving her two-year residency.
De La Salle, which beat Ateneo in the finals of UAAP Season 74, will lean on blocker Michelle Gumabao and scorer Abigail Maraño in their bid for a third straight crown.
UST, on the other hand, looks to reclaim its lost glory in both the men’s and women’s division.
The Growling Tigers failed to nail their fifth straight title while the Tigresses finished just third last season.
“For us it’s going to be tough because some of our key players graduated. Dapat pang-fifth namin last year but we lost to FEU. But we’ll try to get the crown back,” said team captain Juan Depante III.
“Our chances this year is quite high. Our goal is to reach the finals,” said Lantin.
NU, meanwhile, tries to bounce back from a poor showing in Season 74.
The Lady Bulldogs will be boosted by the return of six-foot-one Santiago, who played for UST in her rookie year.
“Every competition there’s pressure so we tell them to embrace the pressure. We were disappointed last year. We landed 7th in women’s and 5th in men’s after being tied at second in the first round,” said NU’s athletic director Junel Baculi. “Hopefully we can turn things around.”