LookBack: Growing pains for promising UP crew
MANILA, Philippines -- An aura of excitement greeted the year for the University of the Philippines, who finished Season 74 without a single win but welcomed Season 75 with a slew of talented recruits in their fold.
Still, there was not a lot to be really giddy about the Lady Maroons, who haven't tasted a championship in the last 30 years, as there were expected growing pains in this rebuilding project spearheaded by coach Jarod Hubalde.
UP opened their campaign with a bang, sneaking past University of the East in five sets to snap a losing skid that dated back to 2010. But reality hit the Diliman spikers soon after, losing 11 straight outings before ensuring the Lady Warriors finish winless this season with another five-set win.
Best: UP's rookies. Reminiscent of Ateneo's "Fab Five," the Lady Maroons' freshmen were quite the darlings of the tournament this season. Aliyah Ong, Kathy Bersola, Hannah Mangulabnan, Nicole Tiamzon and Princess Gaiser captured the fancy of UAAP fans with their all-out (but very inconsistent) play.
Of course, these girls aren't on the same level as the Fab Five (who finished fifth) were almost five years ago. Nevertheless, UP's rookies gave their win-starved supporters something to cheer for in what has otherwise been a dreary campaign for the girls in maroon and green.
Worst: UP's veterans. The departure of veterans Joyce Palad, South Ramos and Pau Genido before the season began hardly hit the Lady Maroons and in the wake of these moves, other old hands failed to step up big time.
Princess Se had a nice first game but disappeared after a couple of games or so. Team captain Aia del Mundo was the worst among starting setters. And UP basically got nothing from players like Liezchel Tiu, Karen del Rosario and Yana Abad.
Future's oh-so-bright: Unlike UE, the Lady Maroons are expected to vastly improve in the coming seasons, what with their Season 75 rookies proving they have the talent to belong in the UAAP. If Hubalde and crew are able to lure some more blue-chip names (yes, we're talking about you, Julia Morado), then the puzzle will be complete for the University of the Philippines. - Rappler.com