Sabaldan: DLSU is likely to meet NU in a final showdown

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By Romy Sabaldan

Davao Beat

Sunday, December 8, 2013

DEFENDING Champion De La Salle University Lady Spikers is likely to face a stronger championship rival in the women's volleyball competition of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 76, which is currently on stage at the different venues in Metro Manila.

Except for Season 75 MVP Michelle Gumabao, who completed her five-year stint early this year, the Lady Spikers still has three of the most dependable blockers and spikers in the front row. Team Captain Abby Maraño leads the cast of the three-peat champion UAAP team with Mika Reyes, Ara Galang and rookie freshman Desiree Cheng from 9-time SGVL champion Hope Christian High School.

The National University is seen as the strongest rival of DLSU this year with Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles retaining only Alyssa Valdez in the quartet after Fille Cainglet, Gzi Gervacio and Gretchen Ho had also completed their 5-year stints in the UAAP.

NU still has four of UAAP’s strongest spikers SVL Season 10 MVP Aleona Denise Santiago, Best Attacker Myla Pablo, Rookie of the Year Aiko Urdas and the unpredictable Carmina Aganon. Not only did NU retain a complete cast of a championship team, it has also acquired the tallest player 6’4 Alyja Daphne Santiago, younger sister of 6’1 Aleona Denise.

Both teams have proven this point with an identical 3 sets to zero blanking of their respective opponents in the opening games last week at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. Reeling from the loss of Pau Soriano and despite the efforts of highly improved Shiela Pineda, Adamson University succumbed to a mocking 3-0 loss to DLSU.

Alyssa Valdez is getting deadlier everyday as a high-flying backrow attacker but DinDin Santiago likewise has doubled the effectiveness of her sharp stinging kills inside Ateneo’s front zone with a much sharper addition to boot in 6’4 Jaja Santiago.

If DLSU has Mika Reyes a mocker for a replacement of the Gumabao swagger, NU has Aiko Urdas retaining the sweetness of NU as the newest to have broken through the ranks of the marquee championship teams of the UAAP.

That is what DLSU has to contend with, Santiago-Santiago, Urdas, Pablo, Aganon five whenever the Towering Taft defenders want to install themselves as champion of champions if they can stop the Season 10 Shakey’s V-League titlist.

For now, Davao City fans still wait to see their favorite players in action in UAAP. The National University has three of the best from Davao like Jam Salazar who is second libero with more experience, manning the first ball for NU.

Davao spiker Vina Vera Alinas has been transformed as second libero by new UP Lady Maroons coach Gerry Yee. Alinas is yet to see action with Princess Gaiser taking the role as the main defensive specialist for UP.

From the Mindanao rookies, only Alyssa Layug of Iligan City is in full harness as a starter in the front zone of the Lady Maroons against UST last Wednesday and the Lady Tigers also taking their first win with Loren Lantin leading as the new team captain.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 09, 2013.


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