Hot or Not: UAAP Season 81 opening weekend

With the opening weekend of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament done, all eight teams proved that the competition will be unpredictable as all games ended in either four or five sets. But amidst the intense games, there are some players who stood out and some who fizzled. We give you our first UAAP Season 81 Hot or Not list.

Who’s hot?

Eya Laure (UST) – The 2018 PSL Collegiate Grand Slam Best Opposite Spiker showed that she can hold her ground in the UAAP Seniors Division. Laure finished with 17 points, tied with Cherry Anne Rondina for game-high honors, in a five-set victory over the Adamson Lady Falcons. She will be a strong contender for Rookie of the Year if she maintains this pace.

Ayel Estrañero (UP) – The Lady Maroons team captain showed composure under pressure by executive 44 excellent sets during their five-set win against the UE Lady Warriors. Aside from Molde and Carlos, she was able to involve Marist Layug, Lorie Bernardo, and Jessma Ramos in the offense.

Isa Molde (UP) – Despite feeling the pressure in delivering for her squad, Molde had an explosive 23 points against the Lady Warriors. The rest given to her during the PSL CGS paid off as she pulled the Lady Maroons away from danger situations versus UE. Aside from 19 attack points, two blocks, and two aces, the Cebuana also had 10 receptions in 22 tries.

Judith Abil (UE) – The Lady Warriors’ outside hitter came out to play by tallying 20 points in their narrow loss to the Lady Maroons. Two of those points are service aces while one of which is a kill block.

Kath Arado (UE) – She is the one of the main reasons why the Lady Warriors was able to put up a gallant stand against UP. Her 32 excellent digs out of 48 attempts and 18 receptions in 30 tries are hard to miss out.

Kat Tolentino (ADMU) – She was the lone bright spot for Ateneo during their match against the De La Salle Lady Spikers with 16 points, 13 off spikes. As talented as she is, it will be difficult for the Lady Eagles to win though if their offense is much concentrated on her.

Coach Ramil De Jesus (DLSU) – Kept his roster away from the public for months but came in with a solid game plan against the Ateneo Lady Eagles. His approach allowed four Lady Spikers to score in double digits: Des Cheng, May Luna, Aduke Ogunsanya, and Jolina Dela Cruz. Him smiling in-game is a bonus too. Well played, coach!

Who’s not?

Deanna Wong (ADMU) – Last years UAAP best setter got off to a rocky start. She only had 12 excellent sets during their game against the Lady Spikers. It’s a good thing that there are still 13 games left to prove that this is just an exception.

Lourdes Clemente (DLSU) – Clemente started in the first set but did not return when replaced by Norielle Ipac. It’s possible that she is still adjusting to the system of Ramil De Jesus. If she returns to her NCAA Best

Mean Mendrez (UE) – She was seen as the successor of Shaya Adorador and has proven her worth during the off-season. But the San Pedro Laguna-native finished with only eight points in their defeat to the Lady Maroons in the UAAP Season 81 opening day. A lot will be expected from her in their next game against NU to avoid falling in an 0-2 hole.

Ponggay Gaston (ADMU) – Gaston had a strong showing with the Ateneo-Motolite Lady Eagles that finished second behind the Creamline Cool Smashers in the PVL Open Conference. But she only made three points in their opener against the Lady Spikers.

Vanessa Gandler (ADMU) – The rookie started the game for the Lady Eagles but obviously struggled during her stint. With only one point to show for, perhaps the bright stage and the big crowd rattled her.