Preview: United Volleyball Club looks to play as a solid unit by bringing in new pieces

2018 Season Finish
PSL Grand Prix: 4th Place
PSL Invitationals: 10th Place
PSL All-Filipino Cup: 7th Place

Key Losses: Denden Lazaro, Alex Tan, Danika Gendrauli, Iona Yongco, Coach Moro Branislav

Key Additions: Alohi Robins-Hardy, Bang Pineda, Amy Ahomiro

Imports: Shar Lata Manu-Olevao and Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani

Key Returnees: Kalei Mau, Gyra Barroga, Shannen Palec, Arriane Angustia

Head Coach: Joshua Ylaya

Oh, the changes that a year can bring.

The then-Asset Managers had a strong showing in last year’s Grand Prix with imports Sara Klisura and Marta Drpa. After a 6-4 record in the eliminations, they defeated the Cignal HD Spikers in the quarterfinals before bowing to eventual champions Petron Blaze Spikers in the semis. They finished the conference at fourth place after dropping the bronze medal match against the Foton Tornadoes Blue Energy.

A year later, an overhaul has transformed the squad to its core. Aside from carrying a new name (United Volleyball Club), and new uniform colors, a new mentor will also be at the helm after Coach Moro Branislav’s departure to handle the Chinese Taipei men’s volleyball team.

Losing Denden Lazaro to the Petron Blaze Spikers is a huge blow to their campaign. However, they compensated by taking Bang Pineda from the Generika Ayala Lifesavers and activating her as libero together with Dancel Dusaran. Their troubles at setter have been well documented as well and they addressed it by getting Filipino-American Alohi Robins-Hardy, a player that team captain Kalei Mau is familiar with.

They have also fortified their net defense by signing Amy Ahomiro from the Banko Perlas Spikers. As for imports, UVC acquired hard hitters Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani and Shar Lata Manu-Olevao.

Gyra Barroga, a revelation from last year after foregoing her eligibility with De La Salle, gave Volleyverse an update on how the team is preparing for the PSL Grand Prix 2019. “The team has been training everyday and also doing our best to connect with each other during practices and scrimmage in order to prepare for the upcoming Grand Prix.”

As for the adjustment of the returning players to the new additions, the daughter of Cignal HD Spikers head coach Edgar Barroga shared, “It’s been a good experience so far having new teammates. We get to learn new things from them and at the same time we are challenged to be better as a team.”

With solid playmaking their most pressing need, the former Lady Spiker have nothing but praise for new setter Robins-Hardy. “Alohi is a great setter. It has been a smooth transition playing with her. You can really see her maturity on the court. She’s doing her best to get to know her spikers and also adjust to the kind of sets we want.”

That familiarity is crucial especially in activating a dominant offensive weapon in Mau who finished with the highest points-per-game average in the 2018 PSL All Filipino Conference. With the former Arizona Wildcat getting closer to full recovery, her partnership with Robins-Hardy can make or break their campaign.

With the revamp that United Volleyball Club made, teams cannot automatically chalk up a win against them anymore. They now have the foundation to compete against the top teams in the PSL. We can only hope that just like their namesake, they remain united in achieving a potential podium finish.