RDJ, Cassiey, and Other Highlights From UAAP Volleyball Opening Weekend

A coaching legend and a rookie phenom headline UAAP Season 86 volleyball’s opening weekend highlights.

The Season 86 UAAP women’s volleyball tournament got underway this past weekend at the Mall of Asia Arena, and plenty happened in between wins by the defending champions De La Salle Green Archers, University of the East Lady Warriors, FEU Lady Tamaraws and UST Growling Tigresses.

Here’s a recap.

UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball
Ramil De Jesus is the UAAP volleyball coaching G.O.A.T. (Photo from UAAP Media Bureau)
RDJ notches his 300th

Ramil De Jesus is already a UAAP volleyball legend. In his 27 seasons as head coach of the DLSU women’s volleyball team, he has led the Green Archers to an astounding 12 championships and eight runner-up finishes. On Saturday, he reached another milestone: his 300th win as a UAAP head coach.

RDJ was his usual self-deprecating self afterward, as he insisted he was never keeping count of his overall record.

“Di ko naman nabibilang yun pero in 27 years sa La Salle, siguro baka umabot na nga don. Happy kasi umabot ng ganun karami yung panalo na hindi ko naman naisip na makakarating sa ganun,” he said after DLSU beat the Adamson Lady Falcons in straight sets last Saturday.

“Amazing,” was reigning UAAP MVP Angel Canino’s reaction. “Sobrang natutuwa po ako kasi part po kami noon. Hopefully more wins to come.”

For the record, De Jesus has compiled a 300-81 win-loss record at the helm. That translates into a 78.7% winning percentage, a remarkable figure in any league or any sport.

UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball
Cassiey Dongallo of UE dropped 27 points on Ateneo in a straight sets win. (Photo by UAAP Media Bureau)
Rookie phenom powers UE to historic win

Prior to Saturday, the last time the UE Lady Warriors had beaten the Ateneo Lady Eagles in UAAP women’s volleyball was way back in 2010. That losing streak finally came to an end thanks to the superb performance of rookie phenom Cassiey Dongallo, who debuted with 27 points in powering UE to a stunning straight sets win.

A product of the California Academy in Antipolo, Dongallo thanked her teammates for making her UAAP debut a memorable one.

“First of all po, I’m just thankful for my teammates kasi I cannot have naman 27 points without them. So I’m just happy na parang nung time na kinakabahan ako, nandun sila, hindi nila ako pinabayaan na bumaba yung laro ko,” said Dongallo.

After years of disappointment, the Lady Warriors are ready to make some noise in Season 86. They overhauled their coaching staff, bringing in veteran coach Jerry Yee while also signing up Dongallo’s high school coach Obet Vital.

“I’m very excited,” Vital said. “The reason why we came to UE is to make history and this is part of it. The rest is gonna be a process po, it’s gonna take a while. It’s a new system that we brought into UE, so we’re working really hard po. We’re happy with the win but we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball
FEU’s Ann Asis tells UP to wait a minute for that elusive win. (Photo from UAAP Media Bureau)
FEU spoils debut of UP’s new coach

The UP volleyball program made a big splash in the off-season by announcing the appointment of decorated coach Oliver Almadro as its new program director. Then a couple of weeks before the start of Season 86, the school announced that Almadro had been appointed head coach of the women’s volleyball team.

That alone was enough to conjure some excitement from the UP faithful. But come game time, Almadro’s presence hardly mattered as the FEU Lady Tamaraws pounced on an error-prone UP side to win in straight sets and extend the Lady Maroons’ losing streak to 12.

While Almadro fell short in his maiden stint with UP, the Lady Tamaraws gifted their interim coach Manolo Refugia with a first win in his very first game.

Siguro same feeling nung time ko na naglalaro ako,” Refugia said. “Exciting siya and mas iba ngayon kasi sideline, mas intense, mas popular na yung volleyball ngayon kaya nakaka-overwhelm para sa mga players, sa lahat ng teams. Masaya, masaya yung feeling.”

UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball
UST rookie Angeline Poyos has reason to celebrate after the Golden Tigresses swept NU. (Photo from UAAP Media Bureau)
UST with a surprising sweep

The Golden Tigresses showed that they have quickly moved on from the Eya Laure era with a big straight sets win over last year’s runners-up and favored NU Lady Bulldogs.

It was expected to be a close, tightly-fought contest, but instead UST’s rookie Angeline Poyos teamed with Regina Jurado and Jonna Perdido to take down the mighty Lady Bulldogs.

Golden Tigresses coach Kung Fu Reyes was himself surprised by the outcome.

Medyo ano, dun sa result ng laro nagulat ako,” he said. “Pero doon sa nilaro nila, hindi ako nagugulat dun kasi ganun kami mag-ensayo. Talagang ano lang, maganda yung gising namin, A-game.

“Practice makes permanent eh. Ganun na yung nangyayari sa amin ngayon so again, doon sa nilaro namin ‘di na ako nagulat, doon lang sa resulta.

Banner image courtesy of UAAP Media Bureau.

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