Molde, UP veteran spikers back for another UAAP run
MANILA, Philippines – The veterans of the University of the Philippines women’s volleyball team are set to return for the upcoming UAAP Season 82 volleyball tournament, a source in UP management confirmed to Rappler on Thursday, January 23.
Isa Molde, Tots Carlos, Jessma Ramos, Justine Dorog, Rem Cailing, and Maristela Layug will see action in their final year as UP aims for a return to the Final Four, the source said.
After UP's disappointing run last year, Molde and several veterans had said they're unsure if they'd suit up in their final year of eligibility.
UP finished Season 81 with a 6-8 record and missed the semifinals for the third straight season.
Despite signing on to play for their respective teams in the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) and the Philippine Superliga (PSL) after the end of their last UAAP campaign, the veteran players agreed to return for another go in the collegiate level following a turbulent offseason which saw UP lose its biggest sponsor, United Auctioneers.
Currently, Nowhere To Go But UP – the same foundation that flipped the fortunes of the UP men’s basketball team – is providing strategic management and oversight of the volleyball program, along with help from donations provided by Isko alumni. Professor Schedar Jocson of UP’s Filipino department has been named as the new team manager.
One of the guidelines that the UP administration has set is that the team manager is required to be part of the UP system, in order to promote accountability for the program.
“We don’t want to raise expectations, but we’ll be there fighting even with our limited resources,” said the source, who called UP’s upcoming campaign a “rebuild” for the program.
As for potential new sponsors, “talks have been ongoing" but "there’s no agreement yet.”
Furthermore, the UPWVT will no longer be called the Lady Maroons, and will now also be referred to as the Fighting Maroons.
Molde, Carlos, and company committed to return as early as November last year, after one of the team’s senior advisors requested they do so in order to rally the UP community around the volleyball team in these trying times.
“’We would like to have a good campaign this coming season, and we would like you to be part of it,’” was the text message sent to each of the veteran players. Not long after, a meeting was held wherein they agreed to come back.
“They will be doing this for UP,” said the source, who added that will be the rallying cry of the team this UAAP season.
“[They had] no qualms about it. They want to play again for the community.”
With head coach Godfrey Okumu calling the shots, the Fighting Maroons are currently going through their preseason training camp in Osaka, Japan, where a pool of 22 players are present.
Another factor which led to the return of the veteran standouts was the desire of management for them to pass on their knowledge to the younger recruits in the program. The management also hopes the Fighting Maroons can establish dedicated fan support similar to the type of encouragement the men’s basketball team has received in recent years.
The UP spikers are set to return to the country next week, and then will begin final preparations for UAAP Season 82 that kicks off on Saturday, February 15. – Rappler.com