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UAAP Season 82: Tigresses dedicate season to injured Alessandrini

The University of Sto. Tomas Tigresses are using the absence of Fil-Italian Milena Alessandrini as fuel for their burning desire to finish the job of reclaiming the throne. Instead of treating the loss of a reliable scorer in 6-foot-2 Alessandrini as a setback, the Tigresses see it as a challenge for those who will see action in the UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball tournament to step up.  The hitter is still recovering from a partial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear and grade 3 sprain of the MCL (medial collateral ligament) and LCL (lateral collateral ligament) she sustained March last year. “Since nu’ng training camp pa lang nu’ng nalaman namin na di na makakalaro si Ate Amiga sobrang nagdo-double time lahat ng outside namin, kaming mga outside, para punan ang slot na naiwan ni Ate Amiga,” said incoming sophomore Eya Laure. Alessandrini, who averaged 15.6 points per game last year, remains very positive as she takes her time to fully recover and get back in tiptop shape according to Laure. “Si Ate Amiga naman nu’ng nakausap ko siya, positive naman siya na makakabalik siya,” she said. “Nandoon pa rin naman siya sa progress ng pag-recover niya and sabi ko naman sa kanya hihintayin ko siya, wag lang siya ma-frustrate or something na negative na ikahihila niya pababa.” “Nandito pa rin kaming team and UST to help her and support her na makabalik ulit siya sa playing form niya for next season,” added Laure. Laure, last season’s Rookie of the Year, compares this unexpected setback to UST’s situation last year when they lost middle Tin Francisco to a knee injury while building up for Season 81. “Actually parang similar lang last year. Si Ate Tin, nu’ng na-ACL [injury] din siya unexpected din yun,” she recalled. “Sobra kaming nalungkot pero more on mas na-motivate kami kung paano pupunan ang naiwan niyang slot dun.”  Aside from missing the services of Francisco, the Tigresses last year also suffered a huge setback with Alessandrini down with a knee injury but UST behind Laure and then senior Sisi Rondina rallied to a runner-up finish in the Espana-based squad's first Finals appearance after eight years.    “Kahit papaano naman nag-step up ang lahat. Gumawa ng paraan ang lahat kumbaga team effort kasi ‘yung nangyari last year din and hopefully ngayong year team effort pa rin,” said Laure. The Tigresses are confident that their holdovers from last year, key recruits and the much-awaited return of Season 77 Rookie of the Year EJ Laure will be enough to fill the void left by Alessandrini, now graduate Rondina and Dimdim Pacres, who decided to forego her last playing year.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 30th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie EJ Laure vs. rookie Eya Laure

University of Sto. Tomas fans waited a long time to see sisters EJ and Eya Laure play together for the Tigresses after their explosive tandem won it all for the school during their stint with the girls' team. UAAP Season 82 saw the reunion of the Laure sisters albeit brief – two games to be exact – before the tournament was scrapped because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  One could just imagine what impact the Laure siblings would have brought to the Tigresses if not for the cancellation of the season. Skills-wise, both can contribute on points as well as provide support on defense. They have already proven it during their respective rookie seasons. In fact, both earned Rookie of the Year awards. But which Laure played better in her maiden stint with the black and gold? For this week’s ‘Super Showdown: Volleyball edition’, we compare the two well-rounded siblings based on their offense and defense, impact, competition and lasting impression for the Tigresses.        OFFENSE AND DEFENSE EJ brought the much-needed firepower for the then Odjie Mamon-mentored Tigresses in Season 77. In her first year, EJ averaged 11.7 points per game while providing help on net and floor defense. However, her main role in that UST batch was to contribute on points at the wing. She had a 32.17% success rate in attacks. On the defensive side, EJ contributed 13 kill blocks while playing a decent role on floor defense.     Eya, on the other hand, gave UST an added scoring option to a squad that already had veteran Sisi Rondina and 6-foot-2 Milena Alessandrini.     Eya averaged 16.4 points per outing behind Rondina’s 18.5 points per game in the elimination round of Season 81. Eya placed second in UST kill blocks with 19 during the elims behind Kecelyn Galdones’ 23. Eya also punched in 35.90% of her attacks.    TEAM IMPACT EJ gave UST faithful a ray of light when the highly-recruited talent decided to remain with UST after powering the Junior Tigresses to the girls’ title the year before.   The Season 76 Girls’ MVP adjusted well with setter Alex Cabanos and showed good chemistry with veterans Pam Lastimosa, Mela Tunay and Ria Meneses. EJ’s presence also brought back the UST crowd that in the past two years slowly dwindled after lumbering at fifth and sixth place in Season 75 and 76, respectively. Just like her older sister, Eya brought excitement to the Tigresses supporters. UST was then coming off its worst finish in decades – landing at seventh place in Season 80. Eya, Rondina and Alessandrini formed the deadly trio that brought great promise for UST heading into the season. The former high school MVP, Best Setter and two-time Best Opposite Spiker winner did not disappoint right from her debut game.   COMPETITION Although the favorite for the RoY award, EJ had to contend with one of league’s best batch of rookies. She played alongside another promising freshman in Rondina, who delivered UST’s first gold medal of the season in beach volleyball while bagging the rookie of the year and MVP awards. Ateneo had a prized recruit in middle Bea de Leon while De La Salle University's rookies were Eli Soyud and Aduke Ogunsanya. Far Eastern University also introduced solid young guns in ChinChin Basas, Heather Guino-o and Jerrili Malabanan. National University had Jorelle Singh and University of the Philippines got then rookie libero Ayel Estranero. Adamson University recruited a solid middle in Joy Dacoron while University boasted of skilled newcomers in libero Kath Arado and Judith Abil. EJ did pocket the RoY award as expected. But for the first time in the last two decades EJ shared the recognition with another impressive freshman in Arado – the first libero to receive the award since Mel Gohing of DLSU in Season 71. Just like her older sister, Eya came in as the odds-on favorite for RoY, considering the implementation of the K-12 education program. However, she still had to work to lay her claim. Eya faced her high school rivals Princess Robles, Ivy Lacsina of Jen Nierva of National University. Jolina Dela Cruz made immediate impact as DLSU’s leading scorer while Far Eastern University got Lycha Ebon, who unfortunately had her rookie year cut short after sustaining a knee injury.   LASTING IMPRESSION While EJ did give UST the boost it needed, the Tigresses still closed Season 77 outside of the top four. UST finished the elimination round with 6-8 win-loss record tied with FEU at fourth to fifth spot. Actually, UST came one set win away to a bus ride to the stepladder semifinals. EJ in the most important game for the Tigresses went cold, scoring only five points in just three sets of action. She started in the first two frames that UST yielded, sat out the third and fourth sets with Rondina playing better, before playing off the bench in the fifth.       It would take EJ two more years for a taste of a Final Four appearance. Unfortunately, EJ suffered a shoulder injury that forced her to sit out two seasons. Eya was a vital cog in the Tigresses’ rise in Season 81. She was consistent and her all-around game was a plus for the Kungfu Reyes-mentored team, which closed the elims with a 10-4 mark tied with the Lady Spikers. Eya’s heroics during the playoff against DLSU for the semis twice-to-beat advantage, where she dropped 17 points in the Tigresses’ four set win, pushed UST on the brink of ending an eight-year Finals stint drought. Eya erupted for 25 points in the Final Four to dethrone the four-peat seeking Lady Spikers in five sets. She backed Rondina in UST shocking Game 1 sweep of Ateneo in Game 1 of the Finals. Eya also showed big heart and great character in Games 2 and 3 despite playing hurt only to close her first year with a heartbreak after losing to the seasoned Lady Eagles. She averaged 10.6 points per game in the Finals.     --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2020

What if the Tigresses fielded a complete, healthy lineup in Season 81 Finals?

University of Sto. Tomas came close to ending a nine-year title drought in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament. The Tigresses dominated Ateneo de Manila University in the best-of-three Season 81 Finals series opener in straight sets – their first win over the Lady Eagles after 15 straight head-to-head losses. It was a shocker. UST gave the veteran-laden and battle-tested Ateneo squad a 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, drubbing.    In Game 2, UST started off on a wrong foot but was quick to recover in a lopsided second set win. Then, rookie Eya Laure suffered a left ankle sprain. Although the Season 81 Rookie of the Year returned to finish the game, Laure already lost the same explosiveness she had as the Tigresses yielded the match in four sets. Ateneo finished off UST in straight sets in the series decider for their third title overall. But the question remains for the UST faithful: What if the Tigresses had a healthy roster in the Finals series? Before its fateful Game 2 loss, UST was on a seven-game winning streak. The Tigresses were able to pull off an amazing run despite missing sophomore Fil-Italian Milena Alessandrini to a knee injury that abruptly ended her season.           Players like KC Galdones, Caitlin Viray and Ysa Jimenez stepped up to help Rondina and Laure on offense with Alessandrini sidelined. Against Ateneo, which returned to the Finals after falling short of a seventh straight championship stint in Season 80, in the two schools' first-ever title showdown the Tigresses needed the presence of Alessandrini. The Season 80 RoY averaged 15.6 points per game before going down with a torn partial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear and grade 3 sprain of the MCL (medial collateral ligament) and LCL (lateral collateral ligament) in the second set of UST’s elimination round clash with Far Eastern University. Alessandrini would’ve given UST an extra scoring option aside from Rondina and Laure. At 6-foot-2, Alessandrini would’ve also been a great help at the net and would've posted as a challenge to Ateneo’s imposing middles in Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag. Another big what if for UST: What if Laure didn’t accidentally land on Kat Tolentino’s foot at the start of the third set in Game 2? In Game 1, Laure finished with 11 points. She had 10 markers in Game 2, but had to bleed for points in the last two sets while playing through pain. Laure also had 10 markers in the series decider, but she was obviously not playing on the same level that she had during the Tigresses' seven-game win streak.    Of course, the Season 81 Finals turned out to be a thrilling and memorable one even with UST bitten by the injury bug. But again, what if the Tigresses came in healthy and in full force?   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles  .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 6th, 2020

UAAP Season 82: UST Tigresses keeping the fire burning post-Sisi Rondina era

Sisi Rondina is incomparable. However, University of Sto. Tomas is not looking for the next Rondina. What Tigresses head coach Kungfu Reyes wants this UAAP Season 82 is a new leader who will step up to bear the torch left by the reigning Most Valuable Player. “Wala namang pwedeng pumalit kay Sisi,” said Reyes of the heart and soul of UST’s runner-up run last year. “Pero yung spot na pwedeng mag-take over, kung sino namang maga-act as a leader [ang hanap namin].” This is the challenge of Reyes to his wards as they prepare for another shot at the throne that has been elusive to the Espana-based squad since the Tigresses won it all a decade ago. But the mentor is confident that the holdovers and even the incoming Tigresses share the same ferocity, passion and dedication of Rondina. So it won’t be hard finding the next UST leader.       “‘Yung team namin last year is very young ngayon yung naiwan ni Sisi, nahawaan niya yung mga bata ganun din ‘yung mga seniors namin ngayon,” said Reyes, who is also the national women’s volleyball team assistant coach. Ready to prove that they can sustain if not surpass their achievements last year are key holdovers Season 81 Rookie of the Year and go-to-player Eya Laure, team captain Alina Bicar, Caitlyn Viray, Kecelyn Galdones and Ysa Jimenez. Eya Laure, who suited up for the national team in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, will reunite with sister EJ, who is back after a two-year hiatus. The elder Laure’s presence added another scoring option for the Tigresses with 6-foot-2 Fil-Italian Milena Alessandrini still recovering from a knee injury she sustained last year.    Also a welcome addition for UST is rookie Imee Hernandez, who showed a lot of promise in the Tigresses’ runner-up finish in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference. As part of their preparation, UST held training camps in Baguio and Taiwan that yielded favorable results. But having experienced what it was to play in the biggest stage of the tournament, according to Reyes, is their biggest advantage this year and he is confident that this time UST is fully equipped for another shot at the championship. “Hindi namin kaya ituro ‘yung nangyari last year in front of 21,000 spectators, [yung] spotlight, camera sa training,” he said. “’Yung experience na ‘yung madadala namin as a motivation.” “Isang malaking bagay para sa mga bata towards [Season] 82 medyo naka-experience na kahit papaano,” added Reyes.   EYES ON YOU: After a stellar rookie season that saw her average 16.4 points per game and become the most efficient hitter with 35.90% success rate in attacks, Eya Laure’s second run for the black and gold puts her on the spotlight as the face of UST. Her resume which include valuable experience playing for the tricolors in different international tournaments and work on improving her craft will be her biggest advantage – and pressure – as she tries to lead the Tigresses to follow to their impressive run last season. “Ang mindset ko this coming season ay matulangan ang teammates ko, matulungan ang team na ilabas nila ang best performance nila every game,” said Laure. “Maglalaro ako ng best ko.” But Eya stresses that this season is not just about her but about how the Tigresses will work as one to complete an unfinished business last season.          “Naniniwala kasi kami sa team effort. Hindi kakayanin ng isa, dalawa o kahit tatlo nga eh. Yung nagdala sa amin sa Finals is yung team effort,” said Laure.    --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsFeb 12th, 2020

UAAP Finals: Injured Animam the inspiration for Lady Bulldogs gutsy Game 1 win

Jack Danielle Animam has been a constant for National University in its dynastic run through the UAAP Women’s Basketball Tournament. For the first time in her five-year career as a Lady Bulldog, however, Animam missed Game 1 of the Season 82 Finals due to a facial injury. "She's not here yet because she has an eye injury," head coach Pat Aquino shared. "No surgery, but she has to stay there first for precaution. She's being examined day-to-day and hopefully, she comes back before Saturday." The multiple time champion suffered a right orbital fracture in her tour of duty for Gilas Pilipinas Women in the 2019 FIBA Olympic Pre-qualifying Tournament in New Zealand last Saturday. Because of that face injury, she was barred from flying back home and was thus out of action as National U began its best-of-three Finals opposite University of Sto. Tomas. Animam was very much there in spirit, however, as her teammates channeled her fight to come out on top of the very game Tigresses. "I'm sad in such a way that Jack wasn't here playing with us, but happy in such a way that everybody else stepped up," her mentor said. Of course, the Lady Bulldogs were out to win one for their injured teammate. "We talked earlier. Sabi niya, 'Coach, kayo na bahala dyan,'" Coach Pat said. "Sabi ko naman, 'This is for you.'" Kelli Hayes shared the same sentiment. As she put it, "Of course, we missed Jack not playing with us here. We played for her." And come Game 2 on Saturday, the blue and gold will still be graced by the presence of their 6-foot-5 pillar - and this time around, she will be there in person. Whether or not she will be in action, though, is yet to be determined. "She can play naman, but she has to have a mask on. We'll see," the National U tactician said. —— Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 20th, 2019

UAAP Season: Rondina wins MVP award, Laure takes RoY

University of Sto. Tomas veteran ace Sisi Rondina added another feather on her cap after copping the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament Most Valuable Player award. The fifth year open spiker had a sensational final season, averaging 17.7 points per game with a 33.38 spiking percentage and 3.98 digs per set, but more importantly, the Cebu native piloted the Tigresses to their first Finals appearance in eight years.       Rondina, who won four beach volleyball titles and four MVP honors, also claimed the Second Best Open spiker and Best Scorer awards. The Queen Tigress became  the second player to win both the indoor and beach volleyball MVP awards in a single season since Wendy Semana of Far Eastern University recorded the feat in Season 70.  UST prized recruit Eya Laure bagged the Rookie of the Year award – the Tigresses second straight citation after Milena Alessandrini won the recognition last year and third in five years after Laure’s sister, EJ, won it in Season 77. It is the first time that the MVP and RoY awards were won by players from the same school since Aby Marano (MVP) and Ara Galang of De La Salle University did the feat in Season 74. Laure averaged 16.4 points per outing and a 35.90% accuracy in attacks. She also won the First Best Open Spiker. Kat Tolentino of Ateneo de Manila University got the Best Opposite Spiker award averaging 14.2 point per game with 30.23% attack accuracy and 0.63 kill blocks per set. National University’s Roselyn Doria was named First Best Blocker while outgoing Lady Eagle Maddie Madayag got the Second Best Blocker honors. University of the East’s Kath Arado was named Best Libero while teammate Lai Bendong bagge the Best Setter award. NU rookie Princess Robles, who averaged 0.48 ace per set, earned the Best Server award.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles         .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 10th, 2019

Wong names Morado, Salak among her top 5 setters

Deanna Wong is considered as one of top talents who make the future of Philippine volleyball look bright. A UAAP title in Season 81 and a Best Setter award in Season 80 are some of the accomplishments she collected as setter of the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles. As talented and skilled as she is, Wong looks up to the legends that made and still making their marks in the local volleyball scene. Here is Wong’s list of Top 5 Pinay setters.    JIA MORADO “Well number one siyempre Ate Jia [Morado], my mentor talaga so wala nang bakit number one siya,” said Wong during her appearance on So She Did! Heady with great court vision and solid connection with her hitters best describe Morado. The UAAP Season 77 Best Setter established her legendary status during her stay with the Lady Eagles, who she piloted to back-to-back UAAP titles. Morado, who is a member of the national team, also helped Creamline win three titles in the Premier Volleyball League while collecting five straight Best Setter awards in the two-conference league.     TINA SALAK Longevity. This makes Salak a legend among the setters in the country. The 44-year old playmaker started to make waves when she led Far Eastern University to a couple of championships in the mid-90s. Salak was also the main setter of the 2005 Southeast Asian Games bronze medal team – the last squad to earn a podium finish in the biennial meet. The Army personnel played in the PVL and in the Philippine Superliga up until 2018 before going full time as coach of De La Salle-Zobel girls team.    KIM FAJARDO De La Salle University won three titles during her stint with the Lady Spikers. Fajardo is well-known for her well-rounded approach in playmaking. She easily adapts with the style of her hitters, good at reading the defense and a vocal leader inside the court. The Batangas native bagged three Best Setter awards and a Best Server recognition during her stay with the green and white. Her fierce competition with Morado made the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry extra colorful. Fajardo is also enjoying a successful career with F2 Logistics in the PSL and is a member of the national team.    JEM FERRER A member of the Ateneo Fab Five, Ferrer can be considered as one of the Lady Eagles who paved the way for Ateneo’s success in the UAAP. Ferrer was named Best Setter three times and helped the Lady Eagles advance to their first-ever Finals appearance in Season 74. Ferrer remains as one of the PVL’s top playmakers.   RHEA DIMACULANGAN University of Sto. Tomas has yet to find a setter that would equal the caliber of Dimaculangan. With her orchestrating the Tigresses’ plays, UST went on to win the Season 72 crown while bagging the Best Server and Finals Most Valuable Player honors. Dimaculangan is a member of the national team.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 20th, 2020

SUPER SHOWDOWN: rookie Dindin Santiago vs. rookie Jaja Santiago

Towering sisters Dindin Santiago-Manabat and Jaja Santiago left lasting impacts in the UAAP. Versatile, talented and intimidating are just some of the traits the siblings share. Both are vital cogs in their local commercial league club and are valuable assets to the national team. International clubs even took notice of the Santiago sisters’ dominant presence and high-level volleyball skills that they landed deals to play in the prestigious Japan V. Premier League. And of course if you’re a University of Sto. Tomas faithful you’ll often wonder what the Tigresses would have achieved if the sisters stayed in Espana instead of moving to National University. Looking back, we saw how the Santiago sisters evolved into what they are today. With their towering presence, both immediately made valuable contribution during their debut seasons? But then again, which Santiago made a bigger impact in their rookie year? Dindin’s first year with UST or Jaja’s maiden tour of duty for NU?   OFFENSE and DEFENSE Dindin right now stands at 6-foot-2 while Jaja is listed at 6-foot-5, even if we deduct a few inches from their current height during their respective debuts they’ll still be pretty tall compared to the rest of the field. In Season 72, Dindin complemented an already stacked Tigresses. Though overshadowed by legends Aiza Maizo and Angeli Tabaquero, Dindin made a decent contribution on offense averaging almost six points per game. Dindin was on UST’s top five in the blocking department. Compared to her older sister, Jaja’s rookie year in Season 76 was more impressive. Jaja averaged 10.7 points per outing behind her Dindin (16.7), who was then on her last year after transferring to NU. Jaja had a 41.99% success rate in attacks – landing at second spot overall after Dindin’s (46.10%). The younger Santiago normed 0.50 kill blocks per set to anchor the Lady Bulldogs’ net defense.        TEAM IMPACT Dindin was a welcome addition to the Tigresses. However, playing in a squad filled with veterans left Dindin little room to display her full potential. Maizo and Tabaquero shared much of the scoring load while Maika Ortiz, Maru Banaticla and Judy Ann Caballejo provided the extra punch. But Dindin did play her role well as one of head coach Shaq delos Santos’ prized recruits. Dindin, indeed, made her presence felt in her own little way as UST climbed its way into the Finals. Jaja’s entry in Season 76 put NU as one of the top contenders to challenge the then reigning three-peat champion De La Salle University. Together with her sister, they formed NU’s dreaded twin towers and with the likes of Mina Aganon, Aiko Urdas and Myla Pablo, many predicted the Lady Bulldogs would make it all the way to the Finals. In fact, NU almost did before the Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo de Manila University spoiled everything.      As a consolation for all her hard work, Jaja was the runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year award   COMPETITION Dindin played in a very competitive field. She took on a number of powerhitters and precision spikers like De La Salle University’s Big Three in Paneng Mercado, Jacq Alarca and Cha Cruz. Dindin also faced Adamson University’s Angela Benting and Pau Soriano, Ateneo had Dzi Gervacio and Fille Cainglet, Far Eastern University’s Cherry Vivas, NU’s Mervic Mangui, Mela Lopez of University of the Philippines and Kite Rosale of University of the East. Jaja, on the other hand, had to contend with an equally powerful field. Valdez was on a different level that season, so was DLSU with the trio of Ara Galang, Aby Marano and Mika Reyes. Bang Pineda was wreaking havoc for Adamson, FEU had Bernadeth Pons, Mela Tunay and Pam Lastimosa were the stars of UST, UP had their own towers in Kathy Bersola and Angeli Araneta while Shaya Adorador was UE’s standout.      LASTING IMPRESSION Dindin, of course, was the fortunate one among the siblings. She experienced the glory of winning championship after helping the Tigresses dethrone the Lady Spikers in her first year. That championship remains as UST’s last title to this day. But what really stuck was Dindin’s decision to jump ship a season after winning the crown. Dindin made the headlines when she left UST to join the Lady Bulldogs in a move that drew mixed reactions and a whole lot of speculations in what convinced her to drop the black and gold for NU’s colors. Dindin’s transfer was followed by Jaja committing to NU after a successful run with UST’s high school team. Jaja won the RoY award and helped NU move a win closer to a Finals appearance. The Lady Bulldogs were armed with a twice-to-beat advantage but NU’s twin towers and talents were not enough to overcome the steamrolling Lady Eagles. Jaja’s career started off at least on a good note considering how far NU advanced after years of frustrations. Jaja would eventually lead the Lady Bulldogs to two more Final Four appearance with their last in Season 80 – the same year when she bagged the Most Valuable Player award.     Now who’s the better rookie Santiago? Hard to tell. On one side, you have Dindin who won a championship while on the other you have Jaja with her individual accomplishments and accolades.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 31st, 2020

Cebuanos Rondina, Desiderio show love to frontliner-fans

Sisi Rondina and Paul Desiderio are lifetime legends in University of Sto. Tomas and the University of the Philippines, respectively. Rondina's lifting of the Golden Tigresses to the Finals and Desiderio's leading of the Fighting Maroons to the championship round were the defining moments of UAAP Season 81. And two years on, they are still inspiring others. In particular, Rondina and Desiderio are motivating frontliners in the continuing COVID-19 crisis. "Si Paul kasi, I've seen him over the years and all I can say is he's evolving," a UP Bo-liever and doctor said in The Score. "He makes everyone around him better. He's a player willing to take the backseat for his team to win." A police officer and UST fan, meanwhile, also has the same sort of admiration for Rondina. "Pag nagja-jump siya, para siyang may spring. Pag siya na mag-spike, kaabang-abang talaga," she said. Of course, the UAAP Season 81 Women's Volleyball MVP is nothing but appreciative of the effort all military frontiners have put in. "We're very blessed to have you. Thankful kami kasi 'di niyo kami iniwan kahit self niyo na sinugal niyo," she said. She then continued, "Kung pwede lang talaga makamayan kayo, gagawin namin." Only, Rondina would not be able to do that because she's in her hometown Cebu - and even if she were in Manila, social distancing must be followed. And so, she's just giving the next best thing - a Beach Volleyball Republic shirt she has won as well as a Golden Tigresses jersey. Desiderio is also giving the doctor his game-worn Fighting Maroons jersey to be able to show gratitude to all medical frontliners. "Sa frontliners, maraming salamat sa inyo. Lagi ninyong tatandaan na todo-suporta kami sa inyo," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 1st, 2020

Volleyball players think staredowns sure to stay in the new normal

Staredowns are sure to stay in volleyball. Actually, it might be the norm in the new normal when the time comes that volleyball leagues are allowed to resume their respective tournaments. In the pilot episode of TBH, collegiate stars Ponggay Gaston of Ateneo de Manila University, Michelle Cobb of De La Salle University, University of Sto. Tomas’ Eya Laure and Rosie Rosier of University of the Philippines talked about different topics including the return of volleyball. Gaston felt that volleyball should be one of the sports that the government should allow to resume once the health crisis gets better. “Kasi it's less contact di ba? It’s a non-contact sport and dream ko sana makalaro na tayo,” said the team captain of the reigning UAAP champions Lady Eagles.   “Wala na lang manonood, maybe televised. Pero iniisip ko kasi there’s so many technical things that are needed to be than for this to happen,” Gaston added. “Pero sana volleyball ang mauna kasi anim na lang kayo sa court hindi naman magkadikit ang posisyon di ba?” However, the Ateneo star also wondered how they would react on court if they have to follow physical distancing. “Pero ang iniisip ko sanay tayong makipagyakapan sa teammates, mag-apir-apir lalo na ‘pag in the moment lalo na kapag nagka-point. I guess ngayon kailangan staredown, staredown muna,” said Gaston, drawing laughter from the crew especially Laure and Cobb. The Lady Spikers setter and Tigresses’ top hitter are notorious with their staredowns and gestures to express their emotions during games. “Forte ko na ‘yan no! Di na ‘yan new normal,” Cobb quipped. Laure chimed in. “Normal pa din sa amin 'yung ganoon,” said the UAAP Season 81 Rookie of the Year. “It’s gonna be a part of the new normal,” Gaston said. “Kasi di ka naman lumalapit sa tao, titingnan mo lang eh di ba?” Shifting to serious talk, the group also discussed the possibility of holding games behind closed doors. “Imagine playing sa big game tapos ang tahimik,” said Cobb. Laure mentioned how her brother Echo celebrated the back-to-back boys’ basketball championships of Nazareth School of National University in an empty arena.    “Iba pa rin feeling kapag may nanonood,” said Laure. For Rosier, it will definitely be different but sports in general must adapt to the current health situation.  “It’s gonna be super different without allowing people watching. It’s gonna be hard but I think it’s this thing about sports it’s adaptable, its flexible,” she said. “For a new normal there must be a way to advertise sports and at the same time enjoy it.” Catch ‘TBH’ every Tuesday with replays at 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on LIGA Channel 86, and LIGA HD on Channel 183 on SKY Cable and Destiny......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2020

Kat Tolentino: How she ended up as a Lady Eagle

Suffering an injury is a dreadful experience for any athlete. What more if it’s a career-threatening one? Kat Tolentino went through three harrowing knee injuries in a span of three years – two of those she suffered while in Canada. But those misfortunes played a big role in convincing Tolentino to fly to the Philippines and eventually become one of the most recognized names in collegiate volleyball. The Ateneo de Manila University volleyball star in an interview on So She Did podcast shared how she ended up in the Lady Eagles' nest.   “It was actually a long story but basically, when I was in Grade 11, my brother was out there in the Philippines already, he was playing basketball for Ateneo and I was just visiting him for vacation,” said Kat, sister of former Blue Eagle Vince. The Ateneo volleyball management that time already knew who the 6-foot-2 spiker was and she was invited to train with the then Roger Gorayeb-mentored Lady Eagles. “I actually don’t even have the shoes at that time or any like knee pads,” she recalled. “So I have to borrow from my cousin and then I borrowed knee pads from the men’s team.” She played with the team but it didn’t convince her to follow the footsteps of her brother, living alone in a tropical country that is thousand of miles away from home. “For me I was in Grade 11 at that time and I didn’t really think like, ‘Oh I want to go to the Philippines’. In fact, I was kind of confused why my brother moved there,” said Tolentino, who is currently back in Canada after the cancellation of the UAAP Season 82 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. “I think, it’s just crazy because at that time, I was getting mad at my mom because I was like, ‘Why are you making me move to the Philippines?’ I was only like Grade 11,” she added. Tolentino that time wasn’t ready to get out of her comfort zone. Naturally, she chose to stay in the Great White North. Tolentino was in University of Canada when she suffered her second left anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2014, a year after her first.    “I went to University in Canada for one year and I don’t know if you know that I had three ACL injuries. So the second ACL injury, I was in University in Canada but I just decided after I got the second one in Canada, I needed change and I wanted to experience something different,” she said. Tolentino thought a new environment might change her fortune. Luckily, the Lady Eagles’ door remained open. “Ateneo contacted me when they heard I got injured again,” she said. “They said that they’re still willing to help me and wanted to help me with my rehab and therapy and they had a very good surgeon. So yeah, they just called up and I ended up there.” The hype was high for the Fil-Canadian when she finally got the chance to don the blue and white when the then two-time UAAP champion Ateneo joined the now defunct Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference in July 2015. But the injury bug followed her to the Philippines and once again bit Tolentino hard. The hitter suffered a right ACL injury while warming up and had to undergo another operation and months of rehabilitation. She was forced to miss UAAP Season 78 and watched helplessly from the sidelines as archrival De La Salle University dethroned the Lady Eagles. After months of therapy, Tolentino finally made her official debut in the UAAP in Season 79 in 2017 – a victorious welcome over University of Sto. Tomas. Ateneo fell short in the Finals that year. The following season, the Lady Eagles missed the championship entirely for the first time in six years. In Season 81, Tolentino helped Ateneo capture its third title. She announced after winning the crown that she’s leaving the team but decided to make a return for a swan song this year. Unfortunately, the league cancelled the tournament after just four playdates. Asked if she’ll be back for another tour of duty if given the chance, Tolentino admitted that she’s still thinking about it. “I think for me it’s not something I can decide now,” she said. “I would be thankful if they would allow me to go back but I can’t say anything right now.” Looking back, Tolentino would like to think that her second ACL injury brought her to Ateneo. It wasn’t the best of situation to be in to make a life-changing decision but it in the end it turned out just fine.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 22nd, 2020

BATCH CLASH: Do you agree? Season 76 Lady Eagles will beat Season 81 Lady Eagles?

Remember when we did a Batch Clash piece pitting the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles champion team of Season 76 against the title squad of Season 81? ABS-CBN Sports laid down the statistics, team composition, strengths and the competition faced by the two Ateneo teams and let the readers decide who would fare better if they were to square off in a match.    [Related story: BATCH CLASH: Season 76 Lady Eagles vs. Season 81 Lady Eagles] It would really be interesting to see these Lady Eagles go at it, right? But again, who will emerge victorious between the two batches of UAAP champions? Without batting an eyelash, Ricky Palou, former Ateneo athletic director and one of the brilliant minds behind turning the struggling Lady Eagles into one the best women’s volleyball programs in the UAAP, gave it to the breakthrough Ateneo squad.     “I’d go for Batch 76,” Palou said during his interview on the Crossover podcast. The chief of Sports Vision, which is the organizer of the Premier Volleyball League, backed up his claim by pointing out that Batch 76 went through a tougher journey to the throne. Batch 76 was in a rebuilding stage that year after the departure of the Fab Five and under a new system with the arrival of Thai coach Tai Bundit. For him, the Lady Eagles of Season 76 are tougher. The heartstrong Batch 76 will definitely win.         “I saw how they, Coach Tai that was his first year here. He worked them really very, very hard. I was looking at some of these players and some of them were thinking of quitting because training was tough. Most of them held on,” recalled Palou, who together with the amiable and media savvy former team manager Tony Boy Liao, is the architect of the successful Ateneo volleyball program. “I figured the training that they went through and the games that they went through, even competition that they went through. So, I’d go for Batch 76,” he added.   HEIGHT vs. MAGIC Man-to-man both Alyssa Valdez and libero Denden Lazaro-Revilla agreed that Batch 76 is at a disadvantage in terms of height.         “Advantage ng Season 81 is really height,” said the three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player. “We don’t have that nu’ng Season 76.” “Talo kami sa height,” Lazaro-Revilla echoed. Batch 81 boasts of a pair of 5-foot-10 and very skilled middles in Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag and a 6-foot-2 wing spiker in Kat Tolentino.   “Our middles are Amy (Ahomiro) and Aeriel (Patnongon) and Marge (Tejada) and Ana (Gopico). But Marge and Ana got injured. So we have like two lang so parang hindi namin alam. Libero kami lamang,” said Valdez. “Lamang sa height. Sa setter Jia (Morado) and Deanna (Wong)? Deanna’s taller I think,” Lazaro-Revilla said. But what they lack in ceiling, Batch 76 compensates with its superb and versatile wing spikers and solid floor defense. “I think (for Batch 81) it’s Jules (Samonte) and Ponggay (Gaston). So our open hitters would be me and Ella (de Jesus). Kay Ella pa lang, alam mo na,” Valdez said with confidence. “Tiwala kami kay Ella. Utility namin would be Mich (Morente) or Kim (Gequillana). And they have Kat.” “It’s really height vs. magic?” added Valdez. Anchored behind the consistency of the Iron Eagle Denden Lazaro and with the support of Morente and De Jesus, Batch 76 will give Batch 81 a hard time scoring. “I think lamang namin is floor defense. May tiwala ako sa teammates ko,” said Lazaro-Revilla, a two-time Best Receiver winner and Season 76 Best Digger. In which Valdez chimed in: “Si Den, si Ella and Michifu (Morente) kasi ako wala talaga kong ginagawa na floor defense.” “Hindi ka lang rume-receive pero dumedepensa ka naman,” quipped Lazaro-Revilla. “Binabawi mo naman sa mga palo mo and serves.” Looking back, Palou stressed that Batch 76’s Cinderella run is a feat that is tough to beat. Besides, that Lady Eagles team made a miracle when they survived a string of do-or-die games before toppling the four-peat-seeking and thrice-to-beat powerhouse De La Salle University in the Finals.   “But you know, you look at the competition then, look at the team of La Salle, it was a powerhouse, Aby Marano, Kim Fajardo, you look at NU they have the Santiago sisters (Dindin and Jaja), they have Myla Pablo. You look at FEU they have (Bernadeth) Pons, (Toni) Basas, all those good players,” Palou said. “So even competition-wise, the competition they fought then was better and stronger than what they had in the other group.” “I agree,” said Lazaro-Revilla. “I mean the competition that we went through nu’ng time na yun. It was tough for us because given na we were a rebuilding team. So for us it was really tough.”   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 18th, 2020

Ateneo s Fab 5: The Fearless Underdogs of UAAP Volleyball

(This story was originally published on April 20, 2018) Newly-appointed head coach Roger Gorayeb looked at his line-up heading into UAAP Season 71. A champion mentor of NCAA powerhouse San Sebastian College - Recoletos, Gorayeb had in his hands a gargantuan task of rebuilding the Ateneo de Manila University women’s volleyball program. Just a few months before, Ronald Dulay, the mentor before him, landed a trio of blue chip recruits who were fresh from a successful stint in the Palarong Pambansa. Angeline "Dzi" Gervacio, Fille Saint Cainglet and Jamenea "Jem" Ferrer just joined the Katipunan-based squad. Gervacio and Cainglet were products of St. Scholastica's College in Manila while Ferrer was a gem from Hope Christian School under girl’s volleyball guru Jerry Yee. Looking at his 15-woman line-up with the season just a few months ahead, Gorayeb knew he needed to do something drastic. The roster just won’t do. Talking to then athletic director Ricky Palou and team manager Tony Boy Liao, the mentor told the team officials that he intended to cut five players from the list. One could just imagine the shock in their faces. “Nakita ko may line-up pero player-playeran lang yung ganoon bang tipo, 15 ata yun. Sabi ko ‘Magtatanggal ako ng lima then magre-recruit ako,’” he said. The three rookies were in. Middle Bea Pascual, Kara Acevedo and libero Steph Gabriel retained their spots. He needed more. “Sa mga tinira kong players, si Kara Acevedo sabi niya, ‘Coach mayroong player ang ICA (Immaculate Conception Academy) na gumraduate naka-exam na rito pasado.’ Sabi ko, ‘Sige papuntahin mo,’” said Gorayeb. It was Gretchen Ho. “Sa akin kasi ang talagang nagyaya sa akin si Coach Ron Dulay. Si Kara Acevedo teammate ko and she’s been recruited by Ateneo. So one summer wala akong magawa naki-train lang ako noon tapos nagustuhan nila ang laro ko and then fourth year noong graduate na ako I passed the ACET then niyayaya na nila ako,” Ho said. “Then nagbago ng coach na si Coach Roger and dun niya ako nakita.”   “Pagdating ko ng March (sa Ateneo) wala na akong way para maka-recruit pa. Ang nangyari yung tatlo accepted na kaagad. Si Gretchen tinanong ko sabi ko, ‘ano ba ang laro mo?’ Sabi niya the usual panggitna, tres,” Gorayeb recalled. “So sinubukan ko pero ang laro niya tres hindi quick. Siya panggitna pero hindi quicker na gusto ko saka yung height niya (maliit). Kaya lang si Gretchen takbo ng takbo, mahilig magtatakbo so sabi ko sige pwede na yan. Wala namang player na during that time. So kinuha ko si Gretchen.” Gorayeb just needed just one more. “Ngayon nagkaroon ng STCAA (Southern Tagalog Calabarzon athletic association) eh kulang pa ako ng isa, wala akong panggitna. Ang gitna ko during that time si Bea lang tapos si Gretchen so wala akong pamalit. So naisipan ko may nakita ako sa STCAA,” he said. He spotted a lanky player from Canossa Academy-Lipa, Aillysse Nacachi. “Sabi ko kay Sir Tony pagtyagaan ko na lang ito kahit hindi naman kalakasan at wala naman na rin akong choice na makapili kasi rush ang pagdating ko dyan. Nakiusap lang sila sa akin na magbuo ako ng team kasi si Ronald nag-resign,” said Gorayeb. Another freshman could’ve had ended up with Ateneo, Hope’s libero Melissa Gohing. But a few obstacles prevented her from fulfilling her promise to join Ferrer in Ateneo. She instead chose to join the ladies in green and white in Taft.    SOMETHING PROMISING December 7, 2008. Far Eastern University Gym. Excitement filled the air. Fans, mostly volleyball purists and some who just came to support their classmates or were just curious to see a new spectacle after the basketball season ended, slowly settled in their seats for the women’s division’s second game. It was Adamson University, the previous year’s runner-up, which just visited the turf of their arch nemesis and defending champion FEU, which was led by that era’s finest and most popular volleybelle Rachel Anne Daquis. Fans wanted to see if the Lady Falcons still had the same firepower they had the previous season with the loss of top setter Janet Serafica and power hitter Sang Laguilles. A rookie-laden Ateneo squad should be easy pickings with Angela Benting, rookie Pau Soriano and libero Lizlee Anne Gata in the roster. Besides the Lady Falcons got the Lady Eagles’ number. Or so they thought. “Naalala ko nu’ng time namin sinasabi sa amin ng seniors namin na, ‘Hay naku ang lakas ng Adamson, never kami nanalo dyan,’” Cainglet, now happily married to Taguig mayor Lino Cayetano and with three beautiful children, recalled.  But the Lady Eagles stunned Adamson in the opening set. The Lady Falcons took the next two frames. Ateneo stole the fourth.  “Ako naalala ko ano eh, parang alam namin na lahat kasi kami palaban. Nasa amin yun. Tapos binigyan kaming lahat ng chance to be in the first six so parang dream come true,” said Ho, now an ABS-CBN host. “Naalala ko rin na palaban kaming lahat kumbaga nothing to lose eh so ang ano namin, sumasabay kami sa laro and nu’ng nakita na namin na ‘Ay kaya pala natin ‘to guys. Kaya pala naming lumaban.’” Still, Adamson had the upper hand in experience. The Lady Falcons, used to pressure and were steady at crunch time, outlasted Ateneo.           The young Katipunan-based squad fell short, 25-22, 22-25, 15-25, 25-15, 8-15. But for the Fab 5, it was a loss that felt like a resounding victory. “Parang sobrang natutuwa kami and everybody in the crowd, kaya siguro kami natawag na Fab 5 kasi rookies kami pero kahit ganoon palaban kami,” said Ho. “Saka close game. Five sets yun.” However, it was the first of five five-set matches that Ateneo will drop that season including one in the second round against the Manilla Santos-bannered De La Salle University. “Pero ang problema di kami nananalo ng five sets. Parang ilan lang ang naipanalo namin na ganoon. Feeling ko na-overwhelm kami na ‘Uy nananalo tayo.’ May ganoong disbelief ng konti pero alam namin na may ibubuga kami,” said Ho. “Definitely, our rookie season was full of five-set matches. It was tough, we felt like we were so close, but still so far away. At some point, it gave us frustration also. We just couldn't figure out that time what is it that's still lacking because we couldn't win the five-set matches,” according to Nacachi. “People said, it was because the team was still so inexperienced. We still didn't have the tenacity unlike of those more matured teams. But we didn't take it as bad, it was a learning experience for us all at the end. We had to learn how to develop that finishing will to be able to win games like that in the future.” The Fab 5 finished their rookie season with a 6-8 slate at fifth spot.   ‘MAY MEDAL NA TAYO’ Gorayeb remembered on their second year the look on Pascual’s face in their last elimination game match against Adamson. Already wrapping up their first win over the Lady Falcons, Pascual was giddy. “Natatawa nga ako dyan kay Bea kasi papanalo na kami nu’n tapos sumesenyas na siya ng tres. Sabi ko, ‘Hoy anong ginagawa mo?’ Yun pala sobrang saya na niya kasi for the first time in 30 years magkaka-medal na sila,” he said. It was the most important match of the season for the Lady Eagles. With the Fab 5 already in their sophomore year, Ateneo was already making great strides. The Lady Eagles closed that season’s elims with five straight wins capped off with a victory over Adamson. Ateneo posted a 10-4 win-loss mark to enter the Final Four legitimately. “Ang nangyari kasi nu’ng time nila Charo (Soriano) kaya sila nakapasok sa semis kasi may nag-squeal na si (Jacq) Alarca di pala naka-enroll nu’n kaya na-forfeit mga laro ng La Salle,” said Gorayeb. The Fab 5 proved that they were not just a bunch of much-hyped up pretty faces. They backed it up with their skills on court. It didn’t matter that Ateneo were swept by eventual champion University of Sto. Tomas in the Final Four.      But the podium finish of Season 72 was short-lived. Adamson got its revenge in the last game of Season 73 elims, bumping off the Lady Eagles for a podium finish. The loss put Ateneo in a collision course with the twice-to-beat DLSU, who could’ve completed an elims sweep if not only for a forfeited match against University of the East after UAAP found out that Carmela Garbin and Clarisse Yeung participated in a ‘ligang labas’ while the season was onoing, in the Final Four. Ateneo gave the Lady Spikers a scare before succumbing in another heartbreaking five-set match. The Lady Eagles finished fourth but that lone semis game gave Ateneo and its maturing Fab 5 enough experience to dream for something big – A ticket into the Finals.      ‘HINOG NA KAYO’ The first three years saw the gradual improvement for Ateneo. But Season 74 proved to be the turning point for the Fab 5. A fresh new recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school, who just completed a year of residency, came into picture and with the Fab 5 armed with years of experience, the Lady Eagles’ fate will forever be changed. Alyssa Valdez, a highly recruited open spiker just like Gervacio, Cainglet-Cayetano and Ferrer years back, gave renewed excitement for the Ateneo faithful. “Alyssa's joining with Ateneo was a great turning point for us. We needed as much support we can get, and Alyssa's entrance to the team was a great boost to the team's morale,” said Nacachi. “The girl is a powerhouse and we felt like with her presence, the team finally became solid.” “We were able to play around with the positions and the rotations, since we had different versatile open players who can also greatly play other roles,” she added. “We were also able to formulate a lot of plays and attacks because Alyssa can generally do all kinds; open, running, quick, name it all. She gave the team the power and the versatility that we previously lacked from the past seasons.” Social media was just gaining traction then but the Lady Eagles were already on the radar of volleyball purists through online forums. For the first time, Ateneo was considered a legitimate contender.   The Fab 5 proved it by winning 11 games in the elimination round, losing only to UST once and dropping two against the Lady Spikers. Valdez’s arrival gave Ferrer an even broader option on offense. It eased the scoring load off the shoulders of Cainglet and Gervacio, who was then moved to an opposite position. “I guess sakto lang din yung dating niya because by that time Kara Acevedo graduated so someone had to fill in her spot so coach Roger decided for me to move to utility or opposite,” said Gervacio. “And then sakto Alyssa naman could fill in the spot na other open spiker.” “So timing din na we had all the pieces put together at the right time,” she added. With a good performance in the elims despite missing a legit middle in Bea Pascual and the entry of Aerieal Patnongon barred by academic problems, Ateneo finished second and for the first-time was armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles faced an experienced Tigresses side in the last stepladder semis stage. UST just came from a hard-fought four-set do-or-die match against FEU and were banking on their four-set win over Ateneo in the second round to force another sudden death. Ateneo’s date with destiny was sealed with a four-set win over the Tigresses, who then bid goodbye to Maika Ortiz and Judy Anne Caballejo. “Pinu-push na rin kami ni Coach Roger noon eh, ‘Hinog na kayo ngayon. Kasi dalawang taon na lang, kailangan makapasok na kayo sa Finals,’” said Ho. “Somehow senior na rin kami,” added Cainglet.  “Season 74 was really the target season for us to be in the finals and target even to win the championship,” according to Nacachi. “During this time, we were already thinking we could not afford to not go in the finals.” “So it was with our mindset and our level of commitment that we were able to finally reach our goal of reaching the finals,” she added. “We had enough experience that time already, and it was really time for us to show the level of game maturity the team had obtained from the past seasons.” But then they had to face an unbeaten team. Unscathed in 14 games, De La Salle University was poised to complete a perfect season. The Lady Eagles spoiled it. Ferrer outplayed DLSU setter Mika Esperanza, 57-42, in excellent sets as Ateneo handed the Lady Spikers its first loss after 25 straight victories in a come-from-behind 23-25, 28-26, 25-23, 25-17, Finals opener win. Witnessed by 3,002 spectators inside the then The Arena in San Juan, all of the Fab 5 produced points. Cainglet had 19 behind Valdez’s 24, Gervacio scored 12, Ho had 10, Nacachi finished with five while Ferrer had one. Gorayeb made a big gambit and it worked. “Dahil sa wala kong panggitna, yung laro namin ng La Salle, ginawa kong quicker si Alyssa. Kasi si Alyssa nakakapalo. Nagulat si Ramil (de Jesus) dun.” It was a big win. A huge upset. Unfortunately, Ateneo needed to win two more.  DLSU held a thrice-to-beat advantage.   THAT SWAG After Ateneo made a miracle in Game One, fans began to feel a new rivalry born. The attendance spiked. From just 3,000 spectators, the gate attendance more than doubled its size. The interest was there. Fans of traditional powers began to notice the Lady Eagles as a rising team. For the first time, a squad with no previous championship experience except for a title during the Marcos era in a different collegiate league, made a giant jolt. Everybody wanted to see what these girls would do next.    The Lady Eagles, still high on adrenaline after their Game 1 upset, took the opening set in Game 2. But just like in their opener, a well-experienced DLSU squad adjusted to take the next three frames to move a step closer to a repeat crown. With then Rookie of the Year Ara Galang, Season Most Valuable Player Aby Marano, an intimidating Michele Gumabao and a very efficient Finals MVP Cha Cruz teaming up for the kill, the Lady Spikers ripped Ateneo apart in Game 3 in straight sets, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13. “Sabi nga ni Dzi na nadyan na lahat eh. So I guess noong Season 74 nandoon na pero may kulang pa rin,” said Ho. “I guess we we’re able to make it to the Finals pero wala pa kaming championship experience.” Ferrer agreed. "Siguro ang kulang yung championship experience kasi nasa La Salle na ‘yun eh. Ilang years na silang nagpa-finals, nag-champion and for Ateneo doon pa lang namin sinimulan," said the three-time Best Setter. Lacking championship experience is one thing, but Ateneo during that time wasn’t ready for DLSU’s most feared weapon: the Lady Spikers’ swag.  “They have that swag,” said Gervacio. “Everyone knows about it naman. It’s really Coach Ramil’s style talaga kasi as I remember when we were first year, four out of six of the players inside the court were rookies and even if we go against the powerhouses UST, FEU, Adamson, hindi sila yung nakikita nyo na kapag championship na rivalry, na swag, angas, stare down. Pero La Salle talaga kahit sino ang kalaban nila they’ll bring that attitude inside the court.” That Finals series cemented a new rivalry that will become one of the most celebrated in the sport. “I think it also helped that Ateneo-La Salle basketball didn’t face also,” said Gervacio. “Siyempre nandoon ang hunger for the rivalry eh and timely din na its been Ateneo-La Salle na rin sa volleyball.”   CLOSING A CHAPTER The Fab 5 were now in their fifth and last year. They wanted to leave a winning legacy. The pieces were already there. Gorayeb had at his disposal five seniors, a rising star in Valdez, a sophomore middle in Amy Ahomiro, a versatile Ella De Jesus, a steady libero in Denden Lazaro and a new kind of weapon – a massive crowd that can turn any venue into a sea of blue.              As expected, the second installment of the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry was set into place. Both sweeping their semis opponents. The Lady Spikers crushed National University while the Lady Eagles shot down Adamson. Game One was a shocker. DLSU heading into the Finals are on a 14-game roll but were stunned in the first two sets with Ateneo stepping on the gas. But a string of miscues, mostly from the service line, did the Lady Eagles in as they allowed the Lady Spikers to force a decider. DLSU, smelling blood, punished Ateneo to eke out a 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, victory inside the Big Dome witnesses by 17,342-strong gate attendance. Then the series transferred to a newly-built, state-of-the-art Mall of Asia Arena that drew a crowd of 18,799. The first two frames were frustrating for the Lady Eagles.   Ateneo came back to life in the third set to gain a 9-5 lead. But DLSU easily erased it with Ateneo crumbling under pressure. The Lady Spikers were on an onslaught. Sophomore Galang pushed DLSU at matchpoint with a cold-blooded ace that went in a few inches from the baseline. The score, 24-16. It was a tense moment for the Fab 5. A long rally ensued in the next play. Gervacio, with all her might pounded a kill. Her hand making a great contact on the ball off Ferrer’s backset.     Smack! The ball ricocheted off the hands of DLSU’s Wensh Tiu before falling on the same landing area of Gervacio, who tried to dive for a dig together with Lazaro. DLSU swept Ateneo, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16. Game over.          “Kahit hindi kami nanalo alam naming ibinigay namin ang lahat namin, all-out talaga kaya wala kaming pagsisisi,” said Ho. It was the end of the Fab 5 era, but they left more than what any of them could have imagined. "I remember so many people or fans telling me that they started really watching UAAP Volleyball because of our batch. And that is really touching and fulfilling to know. Knowing that you were able to leave an impact like that to people. We were not able to bring even a single championship to our school, Ateneo, but we were able to touch a lot of people's hearts despite that," Nacachi shared. The Fab 5 closed a colorful chapter of Ateneo volleyball in tears. They were there during the Lady Eagles’ birth pains. They labored. They shed tears, blood and sweat. They laid the foundation for something big. The Fab 5 planted the seeds that would eventually bear fruit and would change the course of Ateneo women’s volleyball program forever. Glory didn’t happen during their time. It started in theirs.    Amidst the roar of the crowd, the falling confetti, banging of drums and the echoing chant of ‘Animo La Salle’ from the sea of green, the Fab 5 hugged each other tight. They found comfort in each other. It was their time to say goodbye. For those who remained – Valdez, Lazaro, Ahomiro, De Jesus – the defeat added fuel to their already blazing desire to bring glory for the blue and white. They were the next in line, heirs to an unfinished business. WATCH: FAB 5 Reunion Part 1 and Part 2 --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2020

ON THIS DAY: Tigresses end 8-year Finals stint wait

The packed Mall of Asia Arena rocked as University of Sto. Tomas rookie Eya Laure hammered the final blow that toppled the three-year dynasty of De La Salle University.     Supporters of the Tigresses went wild as the referees blew the final whistle signaling the end of the Espana-based squad’s eight long years of waiting to step back into the championship round. Exactly a year ago, UST booked a trip to the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Finals.    The duel went the full five sets with the Tigresses walking away with a 25-19, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10, victory behind the duo of Laure and then graduating Queen Tigress Sisi Rondina. That match gave fans a feel of the classic rivalry between the two proud schools. Prior to their Final Four meeting, the Lady Spikers and Tigresses squared off four days before to dispute the twice-to-beat advantage after finishing the elimination round tied at 10-4.      UST defeated DLSU in four sets in the playoff behind Rondina’s 29-point explosion.    The Tigresses, who were looking to avenge their Season 77 semis defeat at the hands of DLSU, came into Final Four riding the crest of their five-game winning streak. The Lady Spikers, on the other hand, were on a two-game slump which started with their stinging five-set loss to Far Eastern University to close the elimination round that dragged DLSU into a playoff for the no. 2 spot in the semis. UST was brimming with confidence in the Final Four match. Laure and Rondina found their mark early, punishing the Lady Spikers defense with their missiles while Caitlin Viray and KC Galdones kept DLSU attackers at bay with great net defense. The first two sets were easy picking for UST. Then the Lady Spikers fought back. DLSU forced a deciding set after pulling away from a close 18-17 lead to a 23-19 advantage capped by a Des Cheng crosscourt hit. Viray scored back-to-back points for UST to trim down its deficit to 23-21 but committed a service error in the next play. Laure saved two set points but the Tigresses were whistled for a net touch to end the fourth set. The Lady Spikers took advantage of UST’s 13 errors in the third set to escape a sweep. DLSU came back from a 11-15 down in the third frame with six unanswered points for a 17-15 advantage. The Lady Spikers widened their cushion to 24-19, Laure saved a set point before Cheng sealed the frame to set up a mad dash to the finish. In the final set, the Tigresses raced to a 10-5 lead before DLSU made a final push to cut its deficit to 11-10 off an Aduke Ogunsanya attack after an overreception by UST. Tigresses setter Alin Bicar scored a kill on the next play followed by a service ace before Laure's back-to-back hits to send UST back in the Finals for the first time since Season 73 when the Espana-based squad finished as bridesmaid to the Lady Spikers. UST ended DLSU’s 10-year Finals run and denied the Lady Spikers a four-peat for the third time in two decades. The Tigresses challenged Ateneo de Manila University in the Finals. UST won the series opener, but came up short in the next two games as the Lady Eagles claimed their third title overall.   ---          Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2020

UST s Cherry Rondina: from Central Visayas in the Palarong Pambansa to España in the UAAP

This story was originally published on April 11, 2016 For UST sparkplug Cherry Rondina, her multiple stints in the Palarong Pambansa definitely paved her way to what is now a successful young career in the UAAP. The pride of Compostela National High School suited up for Central Visayas three times in the Palarong Pambansa, losing to NCR in the finals of girls' volleyball back in 2013. Rondina was also the best attacker in that edition of the Palaro in Dumaguete where she played with current UST teammate Rica Rivera and against La Salle's Kim Dy among others. "Nakapag-Palarong Pambansa ako tatlong beses and parang attitude yun sakin, ako kasi pag naglaro, everytime kasi na may makikita akong bola ng volleyball parang 'uy that's my favorite sport' kaya kapag maglalaro na, ganado talaga," she said on how the Palarong Pambansa helped her in her transition to UST. "Feel ko talaga sobrang liksi ko kapag nakikita ko yung may nagvo-volleyball," she added. And a couple of years after making her mark in the biggest stage for secondary players, Rondina has evolved into a UAAP household name in her first true full season with the UST Golden Tigresses. Breaking out only during the latter part of Season 77, Rondina made a big statement to start Season 78, dropping a career-high 30 points in UST's opening game against Adamson. 13 games later of playing at 150 percent, she's now an integral part of the present and future of the Tigresses with head coach Emilio "Kung Fu" Reyes describing her and team captain EJ Laure as the "heart and soul" of the team. While UST ultimately missed the Final Four for a fourth straight season, Rondina has nothing but good things to say in their campaign, especially since Season 78 is the year which she finally got her big break. "Ang masasabi ko sa season na ito is one of my best experience kasi in every opportunity na maka-laro, maipapakita yung skills namin," she said. "Sobrang blessed na kahit ganito yung nangyayari, sama-sama pa rin kami. Lumalabas pa din yung pagiging pamilya namin sa team," Rondina added. Being a crowd favorite both at the arenas and online, Rondina is making sure her new-found fame is not going to her head, but she appreciates it nonetheless. Now the mission is to end UST's playoff drought, maybe even Espana's championship drought as she was responsible in giving the Tigresses their last volleyball title back in season 77, winning the beach volleyball crown via sweep with Rivera. Both were rookies during that time. "Yun talaga ang goal [to win an indoor title], yun yung gusto kong maitulong na magka-championship kami. Siguro this is not our time and iwo-work namin as a team. Maniwala lang," she said. Also, the former UAAP beach volleyball MVP finally addressed a particular interview she had with former UST courtside reporter Kristelle Batchelor back in season 77. "Saan mo nakukuha yung energy mo?" Rondina: Sa mangga po. ???????????????????????????????? — UST WVT (@The_Tigresses) January 28, 2015 Turns out she was only joking when she said she gets energy from eating green mangoes although she did say she bought mangoes the night before. "Honestly po talaga the night before bumili po ako ng mangga, promise," she said. "Pero joke lang yung mangga ko, syempre sa utak yun [energy during games]. Kumain lang po ako ng mangga nung gabing yun [before the game]." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2020

CAMPEONE: Year of the Tiger (2010)

(This story was originally published on May 09, 2019) University of Sto. Tomas head coach Shaq delos Santos looked at his squad inside the dugout of The Arena in San Juan one last time. It was a cool Saturday afternoon. He took a glimpse at his graduating hitter Angge Tabaquero, who was all pumped up, but was feeling under the weather and could barely speak because of a sore throat. Delos Santos then shifted his eyes towards fourth-year team captain Aiza Maizo, Maika Ortiz, libero Jessica Curato, then to his prized rookies Dindin Santiago and Maru Banaticla. From their closed locker room, the Tigresses could hear the drums outside and felt the vibration that followed. The weekend crowd packed the venue in a sea of yellow and green. Excitement filled the air. It was electric. Less than an hour before, coach Emil Lontoc celebrated the Tigers’ conquest of Far Eastern University to complete a three-peat in the men's division. With his eyes closed, Delos Santos murmured one last prayer. Then there was a soft tap on their dugout door. It was time to march to the court for the official warm-up for Game 2 of the UAAP Season 72 women’s volleyball tournament.   THE YOUNG AND THE BOLD Delos Santos knew that they’re in for ride in Season 72.   They prided themselves with three pre-season titles, but those conquests meant nothing when it comes to their mother league. “Before mag-start (ang season), for me, hindi ko napi-feel na magtsa-champion agad kami,” said Delos Santos. “Kasi ang adjustment kailangan makita mo muna ang lahat ng naglalaro. So depende pa rin sa nilalaro ng every team na makakalaban mo.” And besides, the mentor will be navigating with a young crew, mostly in their early collegiate careers save for Maizo and returning Tabaquero, two of the remaining heroes of UST’s Season 69 championship run. Maizo was named team captain while Tabaquero, who skipped Season 71 for personal reasons, brought in the needed veteran presence to guide the squad. “Ako personally ang mindset ko sobrang hungry lang rin ako personally and I think si Aiza rin kasi halos pa-exit na rin siya nun,” said Tabaquero. “Ako sobrang gusto ko lang for myself na maka-graduate sa UAAP on a high note.” “On a high lang ako nun kumbaga, ‘Last playing year ko na ‘to wala na akong balikan pa, ibubuhos ko na lahat,’ she added. “Plus the fact na hindi ako nakapaglaro noong Season 71 dagdag gutom sa akin ‘yun.” But then again, the Tigresses remained relatively young. Dimaculangan was just in her third year, her first two saw the bitter memory of losing the title in the semifinals at the hands of the Rachel Anne Daquis-led Far Eastern University and then another Final Four heartache against the same tormentors the following year. Ortiz, Hannah Mance and Curato barely had enough experience on them so did Judy Ann Caballejo.   Then there were the young bloods. UST got a pair of blue-chip recruits in a small but high-flying power-hitter in Banaticla and a lanky 6-footer Santiago.   The Tigresses were parading a decent squad, but not a super team that they had before with Mary Jean Balse and Venus Bernal.       “Nagkaroon kami ng mga rookies noon,” said Dimaculangan. “Nu’ng time na ‘yun kumpiyansa naman ako sa team kasi bakit ka pa maghahanap ng mga wala o bakit ka pa hahanap ng mga naka-graduate na? So kung ano na lang ang meron kami siguro doon na lang.” Delos Santos, himself, was just on his second year as head coach after taking the reins from legendary mentor August Sta. Maria, who suffered a stroke in 2008. Expectations were high from the UST faithful. For the Tigresses, they just have to deliver.   STRUGGLE WITHIN The Tigresses began the season with an early litmus test. Their first game: against the defending champions De La Salle University Lady Spikers. UST faced a squad assembled to build a dynasty. DLSU was denied of a four-peat three years ago when the league suspended the school in Season 69 because of an eligibility issue with its men’s basketball team. In Season 70, the Lady Spikers were forced to forfeit games because of another eligibility issue with Jacq Alarca. The following year, in Manilla Santos’ final year, DLSU reclaimed the throne. Now, looking to for a repeat, the Lady Spikers just need to break the will of one of their threats. DLSU paraded a formidable team centered on its ‘Big Three’ in Alarca, skipper Paneng Mercado, daughter of Asia’s Sprint Queen Lydia De Vega-Mercado, and versatile hitter Cha Cruz. Then there’s the great wall of Michele Gumabao and rookies Aby Marano and Joanne Siy, who would eventually win the Rookie of the Year and Best Blocker awards. UST was facing a nightmare. But the Tigresses were undaunted. They clung on the confidence of bringing down the same giant they slew in the UniGames championship before the start of the season. With guns blazing and adrenaline in their veins, the Tigresses were able to control the match as they led, 2-1. Then comes their Achilles’ heel. UST was a determined team, but the Lady Spikers had in them the championship experience, the veteran composure of a battle-tested squad. The Tigresses had no answer to that. DLSU walked away with a 20-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 15-11, victory to start its amazing elimination round winning streak. UST recovered in the next three games, walking past University of the Philippines, a rebuilding FEU, and cellar-dwellers National University. Then came another big challenge. The Tigresses collided with a feisty young team in Ateneo de Manila University bannered by a hyped Fab Five of sophomores Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio, Fille Cainglet, setter Jem Ferrer and A Nacachi. The result was a shocker: the Lady Eagles upset the Tigresses. It may not show inside the court, but the Tigresses were struggling from the inside.   Delos Santos admitted that being a Tigress under his watch was not for the faint of heart. His relationship with the players was not smooth. He was a blacksmith trying to sharpen a deadly weapon. He needed to put his players into the blazing fire of his Spartan-like training, hammer them into shape and sharpen them into a weapon ready for brutal war.       “Napaka-strict ko kaya medyo ano sila sa akin pero at the end of the day na-realize rin nila na ang lahat ng sinasalihan naming tournament, lahat ng paghihirap namin, kapag naglalaro kami talagang quality,” he said. “’Yung pinaghirapan namin talagang nilalabas namin sa game.” Dimaculangan recalled that that season was marred with conflicts within the team. “’Yung year na 'yun ang dami talagang pinagdaanan. Ang daming naging issues,” she said declining to divulge what the problems were. “Lahat kami takot sa kanya (Delos Santos). Tapos my time din na feeling namin nabe-burnout na kami.” “Baliktad nga eh kasi kung kailan ang dami naming issue doon pa namin nasabi na ‘Ay kailangan nating mag-champion.’ Ganoon ang feeling namin,” Dimaculangan added. Tabaquero would simply describe that Tigresses team as ‘shaky’. “On the rocks ang team and noon may internal issues din,” she revealed. “Medyo magulo siya pero as players, ‘Kung may mangyari man dyan, labas na sa volleyball ‘yan. Kung ano ang pini-perform natin maglaro tayo ng maayos.’ Siguro yun na lang ang tumatakbo sa isip namin.” Whatever the issues were inside their team, the Tigresses were able to put them aside as they made an amazing run to close the eliminations. “Nagulat kami kasi sobrang nakasabay ang mga bata,” said Tabaquero. “Kami ni Aiza halos ang nag-lead sa team na ‘yun pero kasi experienced na ang mga bata na ‘yun kasi coming from UST program sila eh.” “So medyo kumbaga ang pinanggalingan nilang team mataas din so I guess doon na lang din sila humugot from their experience sa high school. Nadala na lang din siguro pagdating nila,” she added.   ENTERING THE END GAME Valentine’s Day. With most of the country looking forward to celebrate that special Sunday, the Tigresses were preparing for something bigger. It was their most-awaited rematch with the Lady Spikers, who heading into that game were already ravaging the league with 13 straight victories. One win and DLSU will enter the Finals outright armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage.   The Tigresses didn’t allow that. UST prevented a Lady Spikers elims sweep by slipping past DLSU in a thrilling five-setter. The Tigresses avoided a stepladder semifinals. UST ended the elims with a nine-game winning streak and second-best 12-2 win-loss record. From there everything changed. “Kasi nakuha nila (ang panalo) sa first round then February 14 tinalo namin sila so dun tumaas ang kumpiyansa namin na ‘Ah kaya namin itong La Salle,’” said Tabaquero. The Tigresses came in the Final Four armed with a twice-to-beat advantage against Ateneo. They split their elims head-to-head but now UST wanted to settle an old score. It was Maizo and Tabaquero who did most of the damage in the Final Four as the Tigresses crushed the Lady Eagles, 25-12, 25-23, 25-20, all while playing without starting libero Curato, who was out because of typhoid fever. “I guess kung ikaw mayroon kang chance na makapasok sa championship siguro ibibigay mo ang lahat. Laban kung laban,” said Tabaquero. “’Yun talaga ang mentalidad namin nu’ng time na yun. ‘Yun ang nag-push sa amin na, ‘For championship ito, ibibigay namin ang lahat 110%.’” Earlier that playdate, the Lady Spikers took the other Finals berth after booting out Adamson University, 16-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22.         "EH ANO NGAYON KUNG DEFENDING CHAMPION KAYO?" Maizo and Tabaquero were UST’s contrasting leaders. They're yin and yang. Maizo was a silent operator. She would rather let her work do the talking. Tabaquero was from a different world. She will get under your skin, play with your head and she was just plain nasty. “Season 69 pa lang salbahe na ako maglaro,” she admitted. “Dun lumabas ‘yung moniker ko na ‘Pamewang Queen’. Sobrang intense lang din ng game namin ng FEU nun. Parang sobrang thrashtalkan. Hindi mo man makita on-cam pero doon pa lang talagang may verbal.” She’s no different in Season 72. “Hindi naman sa mayabang ako pero nasa utak ko nu’ng time na yun, ‘Ay kaya namin kayo kasi tinalo namin kayo nu’ng eliminations,’” Tabaquero continued.  “Doon ako humugot ng lakas na, ‘hindi tayo papatalo rito.’ Sobrang inspired lang din siguro akong maglaro noon kasi ang daming tao nun. Grabe puno itong San Juan Arena,” she recalled.    Facing DLSU, Tabaquero knew they can rip the crown off the Lady Spikers’ heads. “Ako personally, ‘Eh ano ngayon kung defending champion kayo?” she said. It was 2010 and UST just needed to look at the Chinese calendar for an inspiration.    “Year of the Tiger yun, sumakto,” said Dimaculangan. “Iba ang kompiyansa namin na parang amin ‘to.” The Tigresses could see the stars aligning for them, the opportunity was there. Then came the best-of-three series opener. Delos Santos was not new to the Finals. He worked as Sta. Maria’s deputy before. But this was his biggest challenge. His shining moment. Looking back, he felt that Sta. Maria molded him for this situation. “Before nakakuha rin kami ng isa pang championship eh. Sina Bernal, Balse pero si Coach August ang head coach pa nun that time,” he said. “Ang ginawa niya that time sobrang gusto niyang mag-grow ako. Noong Finals namin against FEU, umalis siya. Hindi siya nagpunta ng game tapos nung mag-start na ang game hinahanap ko siya,” Delos Santos continued. “Tinawagan ko siya, sabi ko, ‘Boss nasaan ka?’ Nasa norte siya eh parteng norte." "Sabi ko, ‘boss nasaan ka?’ Sabi niya, ‘kayang-kaya mo na ‘yan. Ikaw ng bahala dyan,’” he said. “’Yung time na yun doon ko na-feel na grabe ang tiwala niya sa akin.” Against a taller Lady Spikers side, Delos Santos needed just one key to success: speed. “I think that time sobrang lucky ko rin kasi ang mga players ko. Yun nga sina Rhea na, sina Tabaquero, sina Aiza. So that time yung system na gusto naming mangyari, more on lalo na kailangang maging speedy kami. Mabilis kami, nakuha namin that time. Siguro yun ang naging key,” he said. “Kasi knowing La Salle ang no. 1 weapon nila is blocking eh. Bukod dun sa service nila na napakabigat, yung blocking. Mayroon silang malalaking players and ang ganda lagi ng line-up nila,” Delos Santos said. As the battle ensued, Delos Santos felt that they had the upper hand. “I think nu’ng time na ‘yun medyo na-feel ko na makukuha namin,” he said. “That time na naglaro na kami sabi ko, sa galawan na nangyayari nakuha namin yung magandang diskarte.” And that strategy was to exploit the height disadvantage of DLSU setter Kaye Martinez. For Delos Santos the best way to stop the Lady Spikers’ deadly arrows was to break their bow.  “That time malalaki sila pero meron silang maliit na setter. Maliit ang setter nila so more on dun kami nagsi-set play ng nagsi-set play,” he said. “Nagkaroon din kami ng magandang receive and then si Rhea nabibigay niya ng maayos sa mga spikers.”  It was shocker. UST recovered from a set down to beat DLSU, 24-26, 25-23, 25-16, 25-21.   For the first time in Season 72, the Taft-based squad got its back against the wall.   SHAQ THE WORLD The Tigresses were on a high as they arrived at the game venue in the last weekend of February just three days after shocking the Lady Spikers in the series opener.     Entering the venue, the Tigresses were greeted by a huge crowd of UST faithful, all hoping for the clincher.  Tabaquero was feeling ill that day. “Naalala ko may sakit ako nu’ng Game 2. Wala akong boses nun,” said the senior, who skipped Thursday’s practice to rest. But Tabaquero was determined to play one last time, give her team the firepower and angst it needed, to finish her collegiate career on top.   “Wala ng sakit-sakit, di pwedeng may sakit. Di ko na siya nararamdaman. Minsan napapagod pero wala kailangang magsakripisyo. Saka yung adrenaline ko sobrang taas nun,” said Tabaquero. As the Tigresses trooped to the court for the warm-up, they were showered by loud cheers from the UST fans. “Go USTe! Go USTe!” echoed inside the arena like a rolling thunder signaling the arrival of a storm. A serenade for conquering heroes. There was a huge banner that read: ‘Kami po ang University of Sto. Tomas.’ It added fuel to the Tigresses’ burning desire to reclaim the throne. The squad came into the venue brimming with confidence but with their supporters egging them on even before the opening serve, the Tigresses felt invincible. They were. UST dismantled the confused Lady Spikers in the first two sets, dominating DLSU with sharp angled attacks and frustrating its blockers. Defensively, the Tigresses were punishing DLSU’s attackers. “Dumipensa lang talaga kami noon saka nagkaroon kami ng first ball. ‘Yun talaga ang edge namin nun,” said Dimaculangan. “Kumbaga parang hindi ako masyadong nahirapang dumiskarte kasi alam kong darating sa akin ang bola.” The Lady Spikers’ defense was also in disarray. Even DLSU’s celebrated libero Mel Gohing, the rookie of the year the season before, was already struggling to keep up with the Lady Spikers’ net defense collapsing. “Yung mga spikers ko ang gagaling din dumiskarte and alam din nila kung ano ang gagawin nila sa bolang ibinibigay ko sa kanila,” added Dimaculangan. The Tigresses were already smelling blood.   But the Lady Spikers regrouped in the third as hitters Cruz and Mercado’s hits found their mark. Gumabao, Siy and Maarano were holding their own. DLSU took the third frame in dominating fashion. It may have turned the tides around for the Lady Spikers. It didn’t.      DLSU built an early five-point cushion in the fourth frame, but the Tigresses raced to a 16-11 lead before Gumabao stopped the bleeding with a crosscourt hit.  Maizo then landed an off speed hit over blockers Siy and Martinez, then the lefty again scored another heady off speed this time over Alarca for an 18-12 lead. Then came the deluge of errors by DLSU. The Lady Spikers crowd went quiet in the pivotal run of the Tigresses. A kill block by Ortiz put UST at championship point, 24-13, as the DLSU faithful froze, seemingly awaiting an inevitable defeat. “Parang pa-last point pa lang ata naiiyak na kaming lahat,” said Dimaculangan. An overexcited Tabaquero sent her serve long then Maizo’s attack was turned back. Two match points saved by DLSU. The Lady Spikers tried to hold on. But it was too late. Nerves got the best of Emeli Zuno as she made contact with the ball at the service line.       It sailed long. Pandemonium broke out. “Nagtatalon na kami nu’ng moment na yun, na ‘Heto na ang pinaghirapan natin.’ Ang sarap sa feeling na mag-champion ulit,” said Tabaquero after the final whistle of the season was called with UST completing the sweep with a 25-18, 25-14, 16-25, 25-15, victory.   For Delos Santos that championship was the fruit of their hard labor. “Sobrang happy kasi siyempre nagkaroon kami ng championship sa UST,” said Delos Santos of his only title for the Tigresses as head coach. “Sobrang memorable. Marami rin kaming pinagdaanan (bago makuha),” he added. UST accomplished a double-crown feat in volleyball that year, its fifth since the 1976-77, 1985-86 at 1987-88 and 1992-1993 seasons. As a reward the Tigresses earned a trip to Hong Kong. But even that trip had some good anecdotes for Delos Santos, Dimaculangan and Tabaquero. “Nag-trip to Hong Kong kami for two to three days sa Disneyland at Ocean Park,” said Delos Santos. “Sila lang mahilig mag-rides eh. Ako may phobia ako sa heights. Nung sumakay kami ng cable car para akong mahuhulog na ewan dun sa cable car.” Dimaculangan remembered vividly their flight. “Nag-Hong Kong kami noon tapos sakto pa na bumabagyo noong umalis kami noon. Buti nga natuloy kami noon eh,” she said. As for Tabaquero, unfortunately, she had to skip the trip. “Nagpunta sila ng Hong Kong pero ako di ako nakasama kasi late yung Hong Kong trip. Di ako nakasama kasi na-ACL (left injury) na ako nun sa Shakey’s V-League, yung sa championship ng San Sebastian,” she said. “Naka-schedule na ako ng surgery nun sa UST hospital kaya di ako nakasama.” “May incentive naman ako nun kahit di ako nakasama nun,” Tabaquero cleared. Ten years ago, UST ruled Season 72. It was the year of the Tiger. The year of the mighty, mighty Tigers.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 26th, 2020

Rondina leads fundraiser for Cebu frontliners

Sisi Rondina leads a group of University of Sto. Tomas volleyball and basketball players who are auctioning off their jerseys and shoes to raise funds to purchase personal protective equipment for frontliners in the coronavirus (COVID-19)-hit Barangay Luz in Cebu City. Barangay Luz was recently put on lockdown by the Cebu City government due to an alarming rise of COVID-19 cases in the area. The Compostela, Cebu native Rondina, the UAAP Season 81 indoor volleyball Most Valuable player, was the first to extend a helping hand in the fundraiser.     Kapwa ko Cebuanos ?????????? pic.twitter.com/lTVcsB8BWb — Cherry Ann Rondina (@Rondina011) April 19, 2020 The four-time UAAP women’s beach volleyball champion and 30th Southeast Asian Games beach volleyball bronze medalist started the ball rolling by putting up her dark jersey and shoes for bidding. Starting bid is P1,200. Also showing support for the fundraiser are UST Tigresses rookie Imee Hernandez and UST men’s basketball stars Mark Nonoy and Renzo Subido. For more info about the fundraiser and auction process, visit the PPEs for the Frontliners of Brgy. Luz Facebook page......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2020

Greatest Performance: SSC-R Lady Stags miracle comeback

San Sebastian College stared at a 13-point deficit in the third set against the Michelle Morente and Jia Morado-led Ateneo de Manila University. It was the two teams’ first meeting in the V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference back in August 6, 2016. The Lady Stags led by skipper Grethcel Soltones surprised the Lady Eagles, who were then in their first competitive tournament in the post-Alyssa Valdez era, in the first two sets. But Ateneo took control of the third frame early as they built a 23-10 advantage and looked poised to turn the tables around. The Lady Eagles were determined to bounce back from an opening day five-set loss to the Mylene Paat-backed Technological Institute of the Philippines. But the two points Ateneo needed to take the set never came. SSC-R made one of the most amazing comebacks in the now defunct league, cranking a 15-0 scoring barrage, to complete a stunning come-from-behind 25-23, 25-22, 25-23 win. “Hindi [namin in-expect na mananalo ng ganun],” recalled Soltones, who is now a member of PetroGazz in the Premiere Volleyball League, the rebranded V-League. “Kasi looking at the name ATENEO hindi basta-basta ‘yan.” And Soltones wasn’t exaggerating. Ateneo fielded a formidable lineup that conference. Yes, the Lady Eagles missed the services of injured Jho Maraguinot and Maddie Madayag while Valdez, who was supposed to play as a guest player, was given an assistant coach position instead. But Ateneo was coming off a UAAP runner-up finish that year and were bannered by Morente, Morado, Bea De Leon, Ana Gopico and young guns Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte. The Lady Stags knew that Ateneo will not go down without a fight. As expected, the Lady Eagles regrouped in the third and were hammering down SSC-R. Throughout Ateneo’s assault, Soltones kept reminding her teammates not to lose heart. “May sinasabi ako sa kanila noon na ‘Nothing to lose tayo. Laro lang. Kasi nakita ko tambak na kami eh’” said Soltones. “Tapos si coach Clint [Malazo] may sinabi rin na kami lang nagbibigay ng pressure sa sarili namin kaya ganun ang nangyayari.’ Ateneo was already looking for the kill. The Lady Stags said no.   Joyce Sta. Rita stopped the bleeding with a quick attack and sent Soltones to the service line, where she would hold court until the end of the match. “Nasa isip ko lang naming nun na nasa likod, depensa lang kami ni [Alyssa] Eroa. Kahit anong bola kunin para gaganahan ang nasa harap,” said Soltones. Soltones landed consecutive aces during the run and even scored a couple of points from the back row while Sta. Rita and Denice Lim putting up numbers at the frontline. Ateneo during the Lady Stags’ rally was already in disarray and slowly crumbling under pressure. It didn’t help that the Lady Eagles were also struggling with their reception. “Sabi ko kakargahan ko ang serve ko at gamitin ko pinraktis namin sa serve kasi may target kami kung ano rotation ng Ateneo,” said Soltones, who also shared that she was getting instructions from head coach Roger Gorayeb, who was watching from sidelines as he gave the coaching chores to his assistant Malazo for the tournament. Lim tied the game at 23 off a down the line hit before Sta. Rita put SSC-R at match point after a denial on Morente. Soltones sealed the deal for the Lady Stags with an ace that landed in front of Morente and De Leon, giving the Lady Eagles another bitter pill to swallow.       Ateneo and SSC-R would eventually meet in a playoff for the last semifinals spot but this time the Lady Eagles exacted revenge as they sent the Lady Stags packing. Ateneo wound up as runner-up to the Jaja Santiago-led National University.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 20th, 2020

BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 5

In case you missed it: BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 1 BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 2 BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 3 BEST-OF-5 SERIES: The Pingoy Rules Part 4 --- Pingoy Rule: Never lose hope. --- For the second time in two years, Jerie Pingoy had to have surgery done on his left foot. In November 2017, he injured his left foot in the final frame of the last game of the elimination round of the UAAP. In December 2017, the 5-foot-11 guard went to Pampanga to rid his left foot of bone spurs. Fast forward to June 2019 and his left foot was yet to be fully healed. A failed surgery as well as playing through pain worsened the bone spurs that had long been building up in Pingoy's left foot and he had no other choice but to go to famed sports doctor Raul Canlas. "Nung pinatingin namin kay Doc Canlas, sabi niya, bakit daw hindi inoperahan yung mismong may bone spurs," he shared in a phone interview. "Ako, wala naman akong kaalam-alam. Eh tapos na yun, wala na akong magagawa. Alangan namang habulin ko pa yung doktor dati." As the now-25-year-old was no longer with Adamson University, he had to pay for the new surgery out of his own pocket. Fortunately, he had his girlfriend not only to help him raise funds, but also to find a way to decrease the amount. "Yung girlfriend ko, nagwo-work sa Maxicare (a health maintenance organization) so yun, nag-apply kami ng health card. Buti naman, na-approve," he said. With that, Pingoy went under the knife for the second time in two years. And, as it turns out, it was an outpatient operation. "Ang kasama ko lang nun, girlfriend ko. Pasok kami Sunday, labas ng Monday kasi wala naman kaming ipon e. Binayad na namin lahat ng meron kami sa opera," he said. The good news is that at long last, his left foot is all well and good. As he put it, "At least, ngayon, okay na okay na." NOT ALONE That’s just one of the reasons why Pingoy believes he already has his life partner beside him. Talking about girlfriend Dixie Soberano, he said, full of love, "Through all the darkness na nangyari sa akin, she stayed with me. Alam niya kung gaano ka-struggle yung nangyari sa akin, pero nag-stay siya." He then continued, "Sobrang nagpapasalamat ako sa kanya kasi nandito siya, 'di niya ako iniwan. Siya pa nga laging nagpapaalala sa aking magpakundisyon ka, magpapayat ka para sa future natin." Not only that, Soberano was also how Pingoy received the biggest blessings in his life. In one-year-and-three-month-old Kaeden Jared and two-month-old Jaeden Keith, the Cebuano has even more will to go on and prove that his career is far from finished. "Sila yung nagbibigay ng inspirasyon sa akin. Ang practice namin sa CEU, alas sais ng umaga, pero gumigising ako ng alas kwatro kasi iniisip ko, para sa anak ko 'to, para sa kinabukasan nila 'to," he said. He leaves home motivated - and comes home even more motivated as he has a brand new dream to go alongside the one of him playing in the PBA. "Every time umuuwi ako, naiisip kong sana soon, yayaman ako at pag-uwi ko, sasabihan ko mga anak kong, 'Magbihis kayo, kakain tayo sa labas,'" he said. He then continued, "Tapos makikita ko kung gaano sila ka-excited. Talagang nagbago na buhay ko dahil sa kanila." NOT THE END Before COVID-19 shut down anything and everything, Pingoy looked like he was doing all in his power to put his career back on track. Just a month after Karate Kid-CEU took a chance on him, he proved diligent and disciplined in his extra work and trimmed down from 250 lbs. to just 197 lbs. Of course, having a life partner and two children, as well as his parents, relying on him is more than enough fuel to the fire. "Mahirap walang income eh. Nung isang taong nawala ako, as in walang income talaga eh kaya ngayon, kailangang magtulungan kami as a family," he said. Fortunately, the Scorpions have Pingoy's back as he claws and climbs the mountain once more. "Everybody deserves a second chance eh. Sakto kailangan ko rin ng point guard na leader para ma-guide yung mga bata namin," head coach Jeff Napa said. And there remains more than a few who have not lost faith. "If Koko can be given a chance and the confidence, he can still realize the potential that he has," Bo Perasol, the head coach who recruited and then mentored him in Ateneo de Manila University, said. In Napa, team manager Johnny Yap, and all of Karate Kid-CEU, Pingoy has another shot - as long as he keeps at it. "Maganda pa rin naman ang future ng batang yan basta mag-work hard lang siya nang todo at bumalik yung game shape niya. Yung talent at basketball sense kasi, meron na siya e," his new mentor said. FORGET-ME-NOT However, it is yet to be determined when the 2020 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup would resume action - or if it would even resume action. With COVID-19 posing more questions than answers, hope is all that Pingoy has for his career that has seen more starts and stops than rush hour traffic in EDSA. Still, hope is what he has been holding to all throughout - and is the reason he still stands even after having seen half of his collegiate career go to waste because of residency. Back-to-back MVP seasons in the UAAP Jrs. were followed by two years in a row of residency. A rookie year in Ateneo was followed by another season on the sidelines after transferring to Adamson. Two years as a Soaring Falcon were followed by a year out of the grid. Now, Jerie Pingoy, once thought to be special, just wants to have a shot at normal. This, even though what he has been through in his young life is already ripe for the pickings for a TV drama. "Sa lahat ng nangyari, parang gusto ko na ngang magpa-MMK e," he kidded. And who, if ever, would portray him on Maalala Mo Kaya? The answer to that is pretty clear in his eyes. "Si Gerald Anderson. Sakto pareho kaming Bisaya, pareho kaming gwapo." Without a doubt, after all that happened to him, the sense of humor is still there with Jerie Pingoy. Hopefully, the game that once made him a promising prospect is still there too. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2020

UAAP Season 82 volleyball tidbits

The UAAP cancelled Season 82 after the government extended the enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic putting an abrupt end to centerpiece second semester sport volleyball. The crowd-drawing tournament ran for just a week or a total of four playdates. It was disappointingly short but the season proved to be an exciting one with memorable matches, performances and moments. Here are some of them:   DELAYED OPENING The tournament was supposed to open February 15, but was pushed back two weeks after the government confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country.  Interestingly, the UAAP on its first-ever second semester press conference on February 11 announced the original schedule to push through only to call a postponement of all sporting events a day after.      FIRST SEASON 82 MATCH The men’s match of University of East and Far Eastern University opened the season on March 3 with a gate attendance of 908 spectators. It was a one-sided affair with the Tamaraws scoring a 25-10, 25-22, 25-23, win. Rookie JJ Javelona made a great introduction, finishing with 11 points with all but one coming off attacks, while senior Peter Quiel had 10 markers.       LAST MATCH University of Sto. Tomas and FEU played what turned out to be the last game of the season on March 8. The Tigresses swept the Lady Tamaraws, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, with sisters Eya and EJ Laure scoring 16 and 12 points, respectively.   RESULTS  The NU Lady Bulldogs defeated the UST Tigresses in the lone five-set match in the women’s division. Four games were decided in straight sets while two were concluded in four frames. Adamson U played only one match and was the only team which failed to win a set.  In men’s play, FEU beat UST in five sets in the only match that went the full distance. There were four matches that ended in straight sets and two in four frames. DLSU and Adamson played only one game each and both lost in straight sets.    HIGHEST SINGLE-GAME SCORING OUTPUT University of the Philippines senior Isa Molde scored the most points in a single game in the women’s division this year with 24. Molde had 18 kills, four kill blocks and a couple of aces in a four-set victory over the UE Lady Warriors.  Red Warrior Lloyd Josafat held the highest single-game scoring output in men’s play with 32 points in a four-set win over UP. The sophomore hammered 28 attacks with three kill blocks and an ace     CROWD-DARLING Fighting Maroon Louis Gamban became the talk of the town after an inspired debut for UP. The recruit from University of Perpetual Help powered the Fighting Maroons to a straight sets upset win over Ateneo de Manila University. He backed his court sass and swag with an amazing performance both on offense and defense   BIGGEST GATE ATTENDANCE As expected, the first meeting between reigning women’s champion Ateneo and DLSU drew the biggest live audience in Season 82. A 12,907-strong crowd filled the MOA Arena forming a sea of blue and green despite the then rising threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.     FIRST VIDEO CHALLENGE The UAAP introduced the use of video challenge in Season 82. However, the technology was unavailable during the first playdate of the season because of technical problems. The NU Bulldogs had the honor of calling the first-ever video challenge on March 8 in their game against UST. NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin called for a net violation challenge in the first set with the Bulldogs protecting a 20-19 advantage. The challenge was unsuccessful but NU went on to claim the win in four sets.          LAST POINT Tigresses hitter Blove Barbon pounded the last point of the season in UST’s dominating win over the Lady Tamaraws. Barbon hammered a backrow attack off a Maji Mangulabnan set to break the FEU’s three-woman wall to cap off the match.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2020

UAAP Season 82 volleyball tidbits

The UAAP cancelled Season 82 after the government extended the enhanced community quarantine amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic putting an abrupt end to centerpiece second semester sport volleyball. The crowd-drawing tournament ran for just a week or a total of four playdates. It was disappointingly short but the season proved to be an exciting one with memorable matches, performances and moments. Here are some of them:   DELAYED OPENING The tournament was supposed to open February 15, but was pushed back two weeks after the government confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the country.  Interestingly, the UAAP on its first-ever second semester press conference on February 11 announced the original schedule to push through only to call a postponement of all sporting events a day after.      FIRST SEASON 82 MATCH The men’s match of University of East and Far Eastern University opened the season on March 3 with a gate attendance of 908 spectators. It was a one-sided affair with the Tamaraws scoring a 25-10, 25-22, 25-23, win. Rookie JJ Javelona made a great introduction, finishing with 11 points with all but one coming off attacks, while senior Peter Quiel had 10 markers.       LAST MATCH University of Sto. Tomas and FEU played what turned out to be the last game of the season on March 8. The Tigresses swept the Lady Tamaraws, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, with sisters Eya and EJ Laure scoring 16 and 12 points, respectively.   RESULTS  The NU Lady Bulldogs defeated the UST Tigresses in the lone five-set match in the women’s division. Four games were decided in straight sets while two were concluded in four frames. Adamson U played only one match and was the only team which failed to win a set.  In men’s play, FEU beat UST in five sets in the only match that went the full distance. There were four matches that ended in straight sets and two in four frames. DLSU and Adamson played only one game each and both lost in straight sets.    HIGHEST SINGLE-GAME SCORING OUTPUT University of the Philippines senior Isa Molde scored the most points in a single game in the women’s division this year with 24. Molde had 18 kills, four kill blocks and a couple of aces in a four-set victory over the UE Lady Warriors.  Red Warrior Lloyd Josafat held the highest single-game scoring output in men’s play with 32 points in a four-set win over UP. The sophomore hammered 28 attacks with three kill blocks and an ace     CROWD-DARLING Fighting Maroon Louis Gamban became the talk of the town after an inspired debut for UP. The recruit from University of Perpetual Help powered the Fighting Maroons to a straight sets upset win over Ateneo de Manila University. He backed his court sass and swag with an amazing performance both on offense and defense   BIGGEST GATE ATTENDANCE As expected, the first meeting between reigning women’s champion Ateneo and DLSU drew the biggest live audience in Season 82. A 12,907-strong crowd filled the MOA Arena forming a sea of blue and green despite the then rising threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.     FIRST VIDEO CHALLENGE The UAAP introduced the use of video challenge in Season 82. However, the technology was unavailable during the first playdate of the season because of technical problems. The NU Bulldogs had the honor of calling the first-ever video challenge on March 8 in their game against UST. NU head coach Dante Alinsunurin called for a net violation challenge in the first set with the Bulldogs protecting a 20-19 advantage. The challenge was unsuccessful but NU went on to claim the win in four sets.          LAST POINT Tigresses hitter Blove Barbon pounded the last point of the season in UST’s dominating win over the Lady Tamaraws. Barbon hammered a backrow attack off a Maji Mangulabnan set to break the FEU’s three-woman wall to cap off the match.        --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles.....»»

Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 10th, 2020