Following a dismal seventh place finish in the UAAP Season 80 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses knew they needed some form of rejuvenation.
The shot in the arm for the UST program came quickly and in bunches as several rookies made their debuts in the seniors division through the all the pre-season tournaments UST joined.
Touting several interesting lineup configurations, UST rounded up 2018 with another UniGames title, a runner-up finish in the PSL Collegiate Grand Slam, and a semis appearance in the PVL Collegiate Conference.
Wunderkind Eya Laure made most of the headlines, but several other rookies like setter Mafe Galanza, winger Ysa Jimenez, and libero Rizalinda Martin made good account of themselves over the last eight months.
The infusion of new talent leaves UST head coach Kungfu Reyes and his staff in quite a dilemma as they try to suss out the Sesson 81 roster.
Reyes will have a wide pool to narrow down to 14. While he still has a lot of veterans in the program, Reyes promises that seniority will not factor in to their final decision.
“Sabi ko nga, it comes down doon sa tamang gelling na makikita naming coaching staff among the veterans and rookies,” Reyes said, adding that the final stretch of their UAAP preparation started on December 27 and will most likely include a training camp in Thailand.
“Wala namang seniority. Kung sino mas deserve, ‘yun ang ilalagay namin.”
Despite Reyes’ assertion, the Tigresses seem to be primed to make a run back to the UAAP Final Four.
Figuring to lead their charge is Sisi Rondina, their graduating, four-time UAAP Beach Volleyball champion senior looking to exit the collegiate ranks with an indoor title.
Rondina has been terrific in the PSL, serving as Petron’s off-the-bench catalyst in their run to the 2018 Chooks to Go-All Filipino Conference title.
Sophomore Milena Alessandrini was also brilliant during the pre-season. Free from the shoulder injury that marred her rookie campaign, the towering Filipino-Italian flexed her versatile game in all the leagues UST joined.
UST’s captain through the pre-season Tin Francisco also played the best volleyball of her career to end 2018.
“Si Ej, visible naman.
“‘Yung pagbalik niya sa Christmas vacation ang crucial. Makikita na namin siya ulet in action and doon talaga makikita kung aabot siya sa cut,” Reyed claimed.
Whether or not UST can finally return to their glory days in 2019, Reyes could not assure yet.
“Lahat ng team lumakas. Kailangan namin magtrabaho pa.”
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