High school phenom in spotlight as UAAP volleyball starts
High school phenom Alyssa Valdez will be on the spotlight wearing an Ateneo uniform when action in the 74th UAAP volleyball tournament starts on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan City.
Valdez and the Lady Eagles, who have never won the UAAP title, take on last season's runner-up University of Santo Tomas Tigresses in the 3:30 p.m. featured match.
Interestingly, Valdez was UST’s top high school player where she helped the Espana-based team to numerous championships.
National University (NU) and University of the Philippines (UP) face-off in the other women's match at 2 p.m. Action in the men's division also opens on Saturday with Far Eastern Universtity (FEU) taking on La Salle at 9 a.m. and Adamson University battling NU at 10:30 a.m.
On Sunday also at The Arena, La Salle opens defense of its women's crown against Adamson at 3:30 p.m. and FEU, a 29-time champion, takes on University of the East *UE) at 2 p.m. The men's matches pit Ateneo against UE at 9 a.m. and UP versus UST at 10:30 a.m.
All matches will be at The Arena, except for Wednesday’s (November 30) schedule that will be held at the Blue Eagle gym.
Softball and baseball, meanwhile, will start on January 7, instead of the original schedule on November 26 and 27. The Rizal Memorial diamond would not be ready for this weekend's hostilities.
The Lady Archers clinched their sixth women’s volleyball crown after sweeping the Tigresses in last season's best-of-three finals played last February.
All eyes, however, will be on Valdez. She was impeccable in all pre-season games the Lady Eagles took part in and is expected to shine further playing alongside team captain Fille Cainglet, two-time Best Setter Jem Ferrer, Gretchen Ho, Dzi Gervacio and libero Denden Lazaro.
UST, winner of 14 UAAP championship trophies, is expected to have its hands full after losing scoring machine Aiza Maizo, who has used up her playing years in the league.
Maru Banaclita and Judy Caballejo, who gave UST its first UAAP women's beach volleyball title last September, hope to fill the void left by Maizo. Maika Ortiz, Rhea Dimaculangan and rookies Gi Reyes and Pam Lastimosa will provide support.
Season 73 MVP Jacq Alarca and Stephanie Mercado, daughter of Asia's former Sprint Queen Lydia de Vega -Mercado, are no longer around for La Salle. Skipper Cha Cruz, Michele Gumabao, Abigail Maraño, Mike Esperanza, libero Melissa Gohing and rookie Ara Galang are expected to carry the fight for the Lady Archers.
For Adamson, last season's third placer, its campaign would rely on Pau Soriano, Sheila Pineda and Mayette Zapanta. <B>— JVP, GMA News</B>