We continue to look forward to Season 80 with Bernard Waje’s UAAP off-season reports assessing each team’s preparations and what that means for the up-coming conference.
Do you agree with Bernard’s opinions or would give your team a different grade? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!
University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses
Off-season grade: B
Season 79 record: 9-5
The University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses ended their drought of Final Four appearances after clinching 3rd spot last season in UAAP 79. Unfortunately the Tigresses were eliminated by De LaSalle University Lady Spikers and since then not much has been seen from the Espanya based squad.
Going into season 80, The UST team will have a new look since they will no longer have the services of Chloe Cortez, Alex Cabanos, Pam Lastimosa and Patricia Rasmo, who all played their final season in UAAP 79. Cabanos was UST’s veteran setter during last season, Lastimosa was their starting opposite spiker, while Cortez was always their first option off the bench.
Like the UP Lady Maroons, the Tigresses have huge roles to fill as a result of these departures, but unlike the Maroons, Coach Emilio “Kungfu” Reyes trained their replacements during the last season so the transition period for the team will be easier. He played Alina Bicar as his back up setter all season, with Dimdim Pacres and Rica Rivera coming in and out in the opposite and libero positions respectively.
Even though the team has not seen action during the off-season, UST players have been in action throughout the volleyball scene. Ria Meneses was one of the few players to be chosen for the Philippine National Team training pool. Although she did not make the final roster to compete in the SEA games, training with the county’s best is a good exposure for her.
Cherry Rondina rallied with Meneses for the Petron Blaze Spikers, taking the Philippine Super Liga’s All Filipino conference’s championship.
UST is set to enter PSL Grand Prix this October, their first league as a whole since UAAP, though they will be without their players who are already committed to club teams. Even without these crucial assets the outing will offer the rest of the squad valuable exposure in preparation for UAAP 80.
This UST team will not be the same as last year, but they will remain as a threat for other teams. The Tigresses has two of UAAP’s best outside hitters and has enough offensive ability to give all the other teams a hard time.
What’s in question is their defensive end. UST is a relatively small team and now that Cortez has gone, Meneses is the only tall player they have left. So, whether the net and floor defense will improve next season is still in question.
However, the bigger question in UST’s quest for another Final Four experience is whether the Rondina-Laure tandem is enough to deliver results against the stronger teams in the Conference.