After winning a historic championship during the 2018 Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference, the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons are looking to continue improving as they embark on the inaugural Philippine Superliga Collegiate Grand Slam.
More than just integrating their rookies, UP have to get their star Tots Carlos back in the fold. The Lady Maroons leading scorer in UAAP Season has been out for the entire off-season due to a stress fracture in her shin.
UP have found success without her, winning the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference title. But, in order to contend for the UAAP Season 81 crown, UP head coach Godfrey Okumu knows they need Carlos.
“She hasn’t played with the new rookies. It’s going to be challenging for her, but I believe she can play with anybody,” stressed the Kenyan mentor of the versatile fourth year spiker.
In Carlos’ absence, the Lady Maroons filled the void by committee. Carlos’ batchmate Isa Molde took the lead in the PVL, but other hitters like Marian Buitre, Maristela Layug, Ayi Gannaban, and Rosie Rosier contributed significantly.
Molde will not play in the Collegiate Grand Slam, giving the Lady Maroons another chance to find other contributors.
“We don’t want to put all the energy on Carlos.
“We want to try and create a balance. We won’t want just one player scoring a lot of points. Once we find that balance, we’ll find that winning becomes easier,” added Okumu.
Winning the Collegiate Grand Slam trophy could make 2018 a banner year for the UP program that also brought home UniGames bronze. But their eyes are still set on UAAP Season 81 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, which begins in February of 2019. And Okumu has a lot of tough decisions to make over their lineup.
“Honestly speaking, it’s going to be a big challenge picking a lineup for the UAAP. We believe we can win a (Collegiate Grand Slam) championship like people predicted and that’s what we’re going to try and push,” he shared.
“I wouldn’t like people to think that our last championship was a fluke. Our players are ready to push. But, this is just the start for us.”
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