The University Athletic Association of the Philippines has produced a plethora of volleyball stars in the past decade, most of them now are playing in the prestigious club leagues in the country.
Alyssa Valdez, EJ Laure, Ara Galang, Mika Reyes, Jaja Santiago, and Tots Carlos are the biggest noise-makers in the collegiate sports competition. These names and their solid core of rabid fan following provided a solid support to the rise of volleyball in a basketball-crazy nation.
But before them, when volleyball was not equally popular as it is now, there were prominent UAAP players who were adored by fans because of their rare talents, athleticism, court antics, and superb dominance against other players in the league.
And we could not help but miss them and wish that we could still see them play and reignite their blazing guns in the semi-pro ranks.
Let us reminisce and take a look back at some former star players who took UAAP by storm during their playing years.
Before Pau Soriano, there was Rissa Jane Laguilles manning the middle for the San Marcelino-based Adamson Lady Falcons. Sang was not the usual prototype of a middle blocker. But she managed to stand tall against her UAAP counterparts such as Mary Jean Balse, Maica Morada, and Jacqueline Alarca during her stint for the Lady Falcons.
The short and sweet Laguilles was one of the go-to-players for Adamson, helping her school achieved a runner-up finish in Season 70, after bowing to the FEU Lady Tamaraws in a classic five-setter match in the Game 3 of the Finals.
Despite her height, Sang emerged as one of the top scorers in the league. The ghost of her famous “drop shots” will continue to haunt their opponents and even her fans.
Fans have seen a glimpse of the future when Charo Soriano donned the blue and white jersey for the Ateneo Lady Eagles. In just her first year, the lanky middle spiker from Katipunan already won the Rookie of the Year award. She played different positions, open and middle, but the middle blocker was her favorite because of her passion for defense.
Charo captured the hearts of the volleyball fans not just because of her volleyball prowess. She instantly built a strong fan following during her college years because of her classic Filipina look, her eloquence, and of course her humility.
DLSU Lady Spikers
Known as the Pamewang Queen, Datuin was originally the source of swag and energy for the Lady Spikers. That was probably what volleyball fans loved about her. She was not the main gunner for DLSU but she played with great intensity and passion, something that the current volleyball fans are seeing in Aby Marano.
She was one of the most successful Lady Spikers who played for Coach Ramil De Jesus, having been part of the champion squad who lorded over UAAP teams in 2005, 2007, and 2009.
Shaira Gonzalez could have been playing up to now if not for a serious injury suffered in the Game 2 of the Finals against La Salle in Season 71. That injury served as big blow for the Lady Tams as it cost them their 30th championship.
But before that devastating twist of fate, Gonzalez was one of the prized volleybells for Coach Nes Pamilar. She helped the Morayta-based squad captured their 29th championship as she filled the void left by the sensational hitter Mary Ann Manalo. Shai, together with Morada, was known for her vicious quick hits and lethal running spikes.
Back when National University was a cellar-dweller in the UAAP, Mervic Mangui was the number one scorer for the Lady Bulldogs. The Tarlac-native was responsible for keeping NU afloat in every game against UAAP giants DLSU, UST, and FEU as the team’s offense was centrally gravitated towards her.
It was a big pressure for the outside hitter to carry the scoring load but she never failed to deliver.
One of the most versatile players in her generation, Kite Rosale served as the backbone of the University East squad during her UAAP journey. Open, quick, running, back row, name it and Rosale can give it.
Averaging less than 20 points per game, Rosale, together with fellow veteran Jimberly Dawn Dizon carried the Lady Warriors to a sixth place finish in Season 71 with a 3-1 record, the best record for UE in the past ten seasons.
The stunning and fiery Jed Montero may not produced the same numbers as big as other stars but her charisma inside the country made her loved by hundreds of fans.
She only played for two seasons for the Lady Maroons, in Seasons 70 and 71, but she easily caught the attention of viewers with her sweet looks but she packed with a lot of finesse and power when she attacked.
UST Lady Tigresses
Fans were delighted when Tabaquero decided to return for the Tigresses in Season 72 and eventually helped the team regained the title from the Lady Spikers.
Angeli was a fighter. She was no ordinary college player. People mau usually see her flashed her sweet smile but she gave everything in offense and defense whenever she is inside the court. Her impressive attitude and fighting spirit are something that fans really missed.
Their UAAP stardom may be over. But the marks they leave in the league will be forever remembered.
(Special mention: Illa Santos, Venus Bernal, Angela Benting, Klarissa Martinez, Steph Gabriel, Mela Lopez)