UAAP Volleyball Legends: Alyssa Valdez

Filipina Volleyball Stars Who Were Made in the UAAP

The UAAP women’s volleyball tournament has produced some of the biggest stars in Philippine volleyball’s history.

Filipina volleyball players today are more than just athletes. Because of their influence on the court, their popularity has spread further than this — fans view them as influencers, fashion gurus, and pop culture icons. They are definitely the celebrities of the Philippine sports industry, and a lot of the best players have one thing in common: they have a similar claim to fame.

In the Philippines, UAAP volleyball has been one of the most highly-anticipated sports events. Thousands of fans tune into games and follow the lives of the players, and this is where the many legendary players became stars.

Here are just some of the most popular volleyball players whose careers were set up as early as their UAAP days.

Rachel Anne Daquis
UAAP Volleyball Legends: Rachel Anne Daquis
(Photo credit: Rachel Anne Daquis on Instagram)

Rachel Anne Daquis was named the “Queen Tamaraw” as a college player for the FEU Lady Tamaraws, and for good reason. During her playing university years from 2004 to 2009, the volleyball scene was just beginning to take off and she became one of the instant stars of the UAAP.

As one of the top players of the Lady Tamaraws, she led FEU to three consecutive UAAP Finals appearances from Season 69 to 71, and in Season 70, their squad was crowned the champions. On top of this, Daquis was also named “Best Blocker” and “Co-Rookie of the Year” in Season 69, and was “Best Server” in both Season 68 and 69. With these achievements, she has cemented her place among the FEU’s best volleyball players of all time.

Manilla Santos
UAAP Volleyball Legends: Manilla Santos
(Photo credit: Manilla Santos on Instagram)

The DLSU Lady Spikers have a storied history in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament, holding 12 championship titles to date. A third of these were won when Manilla Santos was leading the team.

As a Lady Spiker, Santos made the most out of her five playing years, sending DLSU to the finals every year, and maintaining the throne from Season 66 to 71. In her final player, on top of winning her fourth straight title, she was also awarded the Season MVP and was named the Best Receiver of the league. It then came as no surprise that DLSU went and retired the #14 jersey number to celebrate all the success she brought to the school, making her the first non-basketball player to have their number retired.

Sisi Rondina
UAAP Volleyball Legends: Sisi Rondina
(Photo credit: Sisi Rondina on Instagram)

Sisi Rondina’s reputation in the UAAP precedes her because not only did she dominate the fan-favorite indoor women’s volleyball tournament, but she also was a huge success in the collegiate beach volleyball scene.

Playing for the UST Golden Tigresses, she won a total of six medals — four championship titles for beach volleyball, along with a runner-up and a third-place finish for indoor volleyball. But perhaps most impressive was her long list of individual awards that truly made her a standout. From Seasons 77 to 81, she won the MVP title for the beach volleyball tournament five times, she was named Best Scorer in the indoor tournament, and in her final playing year, she was named Athlete of the Year — the only female to win this award that season.

Dennise Michelle Lazaro
Dennise Lazaro
(Photo credit: Dennise Lazaro on Instagram)

Dennise ‘Denden’ Lazaro has become one of the most well-loved Filipina volleyball players, especially because of her performances as a national team player, as she represented the Philippines in the 2008 Asian Youth Girls U16 Championship. But her rise to fame came when she was playing for the Ateneo Lady Eagles.

Lazaro earned the title of “Iron Eagle” when she was a student-athlete because, as a fierce libero, she was instrumental in pushing Ateneo to four consecutive UAAP finals appearances and winning two championships. In addition, she has also been named Best Digger and Best Receiver in the UAAP and to this day, she is regarded as one of the team’s best players of all time.

Ara Galang
Ara Galang
(Photo credit: Ara Galang on Instagram)

In the 2010s, the DLSU was the team to beat. From Seasons 74 to 78, the Lady Spikers consistently found themselves in the finals of the women’s volleyball tournament, and one of the focal points of this squad was Ara Galang.

As the Season 74 Rookie of the Year and Best Server, she truly proved that she was a force on the court to be reckoned with, never missing a finals appearance throughout all her five UAAP playing years, and winning three titles. In her second season, she was also named the Most Valuable Player after winning the championship.

Kim Kianna Dy
Kim Kianna Dy
(Photo credit: Kim Kianna Dy on Facebook)

Kim Kianna Dy is not just one of the most popular volleyball players in the Philippines — she is one of the most popular athletes, period. And although she has a glowing record as a professional player, she was already considered an icon by many when she was a DLSU Lady Spiker.

As a La Salle player from high school through to college, she has been recognized as one of the best players since she was a UAAP junior, winning the Juniors’ MVP and Best Blocker Awards. It was no different when she reached the senior level — she is a three-time UAAP women’s volleyball champion, she was awarded the Finals MVP title in Season 78, and throughout her five playing years in the league, she never missed out on a finals appearance with the Lady Spikers.

Alyssa Valdez
Alyssa Valdez
(Photo credit: Olympics.com)

As far as UAAP volleyball legends go, Alyssa Valdez will likely always be top of mind for most Filipinos. This is because even as a college player, she was already starting to grow into how we view her today: the face of Philippine volleyball.

Valdez’s college career is loaded with achievements. During her time, she led the Ateneo Lady Eagles to the finals of the UAAP five times and became a two-time champion; she is a four-time Best Scorer, a three-time Best Server, and a three-time Season MVP; and in UAAP Season 78, she was even named Athlete of the Year, which was just one of her four individual awards that year. It’s no wonder she was hailed as the “Queen Eagle.”

But apart from her accolades, it was also her spirit on the court that drew many fans to grow passionate about the sport as a whole, making her one of the pioneers of the sport’s big boom in the country over the last decade. All of this makes her arguably the best UAAP volleyball player of all time.

Banner image from Kara So Kua on Flickr.

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