UAAP 79 volleyball preview: UP Lady Maroons
MANILA, Philippines - Occupying a fourth of the CHK gym, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons ran basic drills as they kept busy gearing up for a friendly tune-up against Kings’ Montessori School on a chilly Wednesday evening. Shifting gaze on the other side of the court, one can see their men’s team counterparts also in the midst of providing a show in their own practice game. Already used to playing alongside each other, it seemed to be a normal practice day for both squads.
With a day left before the season kicks off, the two teams face another challenge hand-in-hand: building off the Final Four campaigns that delighted the Maroon community a year ago.
“Last year, kahit papaano nag-top 4 tayo. So ‘yun probably ang biggest challenge natin- how to get back up there,” shared Lady Maroons head coach Jerry Yee.
(Last year, we made it to the top 4 at least. That will probably be our biggest challenge this year- how to get back up there.)
However, the journey back to the semis won’t be a smooth one as the Diliman squad formally parted ways with setter Jewel Lai in the off-season. Filling the gap is former libero and newly appointed team captain Arielle Estranero.
Estranero admits she hasn’t tried her hand at setting before the sudden rotation change. While adjusting to the new position may prove to be a tough task, the Communication Research major says her teammates’ support carried her through the process.
“Noong una akong nag-set, kahit pangit ‘yung set ko, pinapalo pa rin nila,” mused Estranero.
“Parang I gained confidence from that. Kasi kahit gaano ka-pangit ‘yung set ko, papaluin pa rin nila. It motivated me na parang kailangan ko lang ayusin talaga.”
(The first time I tried to set, even though it wasn’t good, the spikers still hit the ball. I gained confidence from that. No matter how bad my set was, they still hit the ball. It motivated me to do better.)
Joining Estranero are UP’s super sophomores- reigning Rookie of the Year Isa Molde, Diana Carlos, and Justine Dorog- who all can now boast a solid year of collegiate and V-League experience under their belts.
The Lady Maroons will likewise parade an almost-intact roster of youngsters and veterans, with key players and seniors Kathy Bersola, Nicole Tiamzon, and Princess Gaiser leading the way.
“For a few years now, wala namin kaming masyadong graduates. Mas better kami supposedly this year. Also, expect naman na medyo malakas at medyo mabilis [ang players],” said Yee.
(For a few years now, not a lot of players have graduated. We’re supposedly better this year. Also, you can expect that the girls will come back stronger and faster.)
Former skipper Bersola, for her part, wants to make the most out of her last season as she shares the legacy the graduating players would want to leave behind for their beloved university.
“A legacy of change, change is coming!,” joked Bersola.
“Pag-alis namin, gusto ko sana makita ng mga tao kung paano nagbago ‘yung team and ‘yung program ng volleyball dito sa UP.”
(When we leave, I want people to see how the team grew and how the volleyball program in UP changed. )
Bersola added that fans can expect the seniors to go all-out this season, as the Lady Maroons aim for a shot at the coveted UAAP volleyball title.
“I guess what we can promise, as seniors, is that we’d provide the leadership needed sa court. Tsaka all-out sa lahat ng games since last season na namin.”
(I guess what we can promise, as seniors, is that we’d provide the leadership needed in the court. And of course, we’d be all out in every game since this is our last season.)
The University of the Philippines will open its season 79 campaign against the Adamson University Lady Falcons on Sunday, February 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Maroons’ full lineup:
Katherine Adrielle Bersola
Nicole Anne Tiamzon
Princess Ira Gaiser
Marian Alisa Buitre
Ma. Isabel Lina Molde
Diana Mae Carlos
Mae Angeli Basarte
Maristela Genn Layug
Rose Mary Cailing
Jessma Clarice Ramos