The UAAP season for the volleyball seniors may not start till February but we don’t want to make you wait that long to hear how your team is looking for Season 80. So here’s the first of our UAAP off-season reports where Bernard Waje assesses each team’s preparations and what that means for the up-coming conference.
Ateneo De Manila University Lady Eagles
Offseason Grade: B-
Season 79 record: 12-2
The Ateneo Lady Eagles topped the rankings once again in Season 79 after only losing 2 games in the elimination rounds. It’s heart breaking loss in the finals against their arch-rival De La Salle University Lady Spikers led them to a bridesmaid finish once again.
But the biggest blow to the Eagles came when Jia Morado shocked the volleyball world with her announcement that she will no longer be returning for Season 80 to play her 5th and final year. The superstar setter is a previous UAAP best setter and former member of the national team. The Eagles now have to face Season 80 without her remarkable play making and steady defense.
Their starting libero, Giezel Tan also bid her goodbye to her collegiate career, having played 5 years for the Blue and White.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, Ateneo suffered another loss in Michelle Morente. She couldn’t comply with Ateneo’s academic requirements, instead opting to pack her bags and head straight to DLSU. At least the silver lining is that the star opposite spiker won’t be able to play for the Lady Spikers until Season 81.
There is hope
Despite the loss of these stars Ateneo fans should have nothing to worry about as the Eagles still have big name players returning like their ace spiker, Jhoana Maraguinot, who suffered a minor injury in the latter stages of Season 79.
To back up Maraguinot is Kat Tolentino, their 6 foot 2 outside hitter. Tolentino was solid for the Eagles last year, providing both points and a wall-like defense at the net. She will be expected to provide more points now that Morente is gone.
Deanna Wong who played as the back-up libero last year is back to her original position of setter and now calling the plays. Bea De Leon has been appointed as the new team captain and is being experimented in the opposite position.
Kim Gequillana is playing as libero while Maddie Madayag is back defending the middle together with Pongay Gaston and Ana Gopico. Rookie of the year, Jules Samonte will likely play the opposite position or be their first option off the bench.
This Ateneo team has not engaged in any commercial leagues other than PVL’s Collegiate Conference where they have just missed semi-final qualifcation, with a win-loss record of 3-2, having lost to the FEU Lady Tamaraws & NU Lady Bulldogs.
The Katipunan based squad is expected to face a harder year and a longer road to the finals than in previous seasons, but when you have Maraguinot, Deleon and Tolentino on your roster, you’re still one of the top teams to beat. If Wong can continue the great job she is doing in the PVL, the Lady Eagles have a good chance of reaching the finals again.
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