University of the East has had bright spots in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament, but that’s all they were – just spots.
Despite showing their fight in their last two games – a five-setter against Far Eastern University, and a four-setter against the University of Santo Tomas – the Lady Warriors ended the first round winless.
UE head coach Ronwald Dimaculangan pointed out that while winning a set or two seemed like a morale victory for some, it did not appear in the win column.
“Sabi ko sa kanila huwag sila makuntento na makapanalo lang ng isang set o two sets kasi ang volleyball naman kailangan makapanalo ka ng tatlong set,” said Dimaculangan. “Mahirap talaga we’re at a disadvantage talaga pagdating sa height. Naguumpisa and then at the same time nawawala. Medyo struggle talaga.
“We’re really trying our best naman pero syempre pagdating ng medyo tumatagal tagal na yung set at napagod na yung maliliit, medyo nawawala na. Pero nakikita naman yung improvement.”
Two of the team’s bright spots despite the gloomy record were rookie KC Cepada and Van Bangayan. Both are products of the proud high school program of the University of Santo Tomas.
Cepada and Bangayan both averaged 10 points per game in the first round, leading UE’s attack most of the time alongside Ja Lana.
Dimaculangan said that even though this is the duo’s first time playing in the UAAP, as Bangayan was just a COVID-reserve in Season 84, they have proven they have what it takes to be the heavy scorers of the Lady Warriors.
“Ito kasing dalawang bata na ito pagdating kasi sa amin I would admit na the skill is there already so swerte na nakuha namin sila. Ang dinagdag na lang namin sa kanila ay yung kumpyansa at maging consistent pero yung basic skills nandoon na eh,” said the second year UE tactician.
“Ang naging advantage nitong dalawang ito galing sila sa magandang program nung high school so yung sistema mismo ng UST nakuha nila at yung tapang saka yung scoring load, kahit na bata they’re up to the challenge na maging anchor ng team sa bright moments namin.”
Just like Dimaculangan, though, Cepada is not contented with just winning sets. She wants to lead UE to the winning column in the second round.
The 5-foot-7 opposite spiker admitted that there’s still a lot of work to do, but she’s not one to shy away from the challenge of reviving the squad.
“As a team, marami pa po talaga kaming lapses na kailangan po iwork on. Yung blockings, serve, lalo na yung puso sa paglalaro kasi kapag nalalamangan, nadadown na,” said the rookie leader.
Cepada has emerged as one of the go-to scorers of the Lady Warriors, leading the team in that department in four of their seven games, including a personal-best 18-point output against the Lady Tamaraws.
But according to the 20-year-old standout from Catmon, Cebu, she’s just doing whatever it takes to help the team improve, not consciously trying to take the scoring mantle.
“Syempre po di ko na iniisip yung responsibility po, iniisip ko lang po yung team namin kung paano kami makakaangat, kung paano kami makakamove forward every game,” said Cepada.
“Siguro we’ll just bring the lessons na nakuha namin ngayong first round even though walang panalo, start somewhere na lumalaban na, we just have to continue doing that and dagdagan pa talaga,” added Dimaculangan.