The Grind Continues: How UAAP Volleyball Unfolded After A Week-Long Break

UAAP volleyball returns after a short break, headlined by La Salle’s resiliency, and UST’s triumphs among others. 

Season 86 UAAP volleyball has officially returned after the Holy Week break and it’s been an eventful two days that saw defending champs La Salle perform amid controversy and UST get back on track after being shut down by the NU Lady Bulldogs. 

There’s a lot more to unpack, so here’s a quick recap of what you might’ve missed.

Rumors addressed as under scrutiny DLSU survives UP  
UAAP volleyball: DLSU
Despite the increased attention, La Salle persevered against the UP Lady Maroons. (Photo credit: UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

Defending champs DLSU reopened their UAAP volleyball campaign amid rumors surrounding homegrown star Angel Canino.

The outside hitter did appear with the team but with her right arm in a cast and arm sling. She also participated in the team’s pre-game rituals and was a presence on their bench come game time. 

Nagkaroon lang ng accident, cut si Angel sa [right arm] niya. So day-by-day minomonitor naman siya, hindi namin alam kung ano ‘yung ano [sabi] ng doktor, hanggang kailan,” La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo explained.

Without Canino, the Lady Spikers barely escaped the UP Lady Maroons, with their first set being a 26-24 squeaker. By the third set, the defending champs committed a total of 11 unforced errors and allowed State U to unleash a 6-0 run en route to a fourth set. 

UP almost forced a decider in the fourth set, before Alleilah Malaluan, Shevana Laput, and Julia Coronel led the Lady Spikers’ closeout. 

As expected, Canino still helped the team with her presence alone. 

“Her [Canino] being there is motivation for sure, you know? We’re doing her justice, we’re doing her peace of mind by winning for her. We’re playing for her now because she can’t be on the court but she’s in our hearts,” said Laput, who showed the way with 21 points built on 18 attacks. 

Siguro nag-serve ‘yun as an inspiration samin. Parang kanina lahat kami ‘let’s do it for Angel’ para wala siya masyadong isipin mamaya, ganon, para mas mabilis ‘yung pag-recover niya,” added outside hitter Maicah Larroza. 

Now at 8-1, DLSU hopes to gain a twice-to-beat advantage with or without Canino. Up next for them are the UE Lady Warriors on Tuesday, April 9, and a crucial matchup versus the NU Lady Bulldogs on Sunday, April 14. 

Angge’s career game leads UST back to Final Four
UAAP volleyball: UST
Angge Poyos (left) gave UST several reasons to be confident after Holy Week. (Photo credit: UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

UST was first to clinch a Season 86 Final Four berth on Wednesday, beating Adamson in four sets. Super rookie Angge Poyos led the way with her career-high 31 points en route to UST’s fourth-straight Final Four trip. 

Poyos also reset the rookie record with her showing, beating out UE’s Casiey Dongallo’s 30-point outing last February. She also matches Eya Laure’s 31-point explosion in May 2022 during UAAP Season 84. 

“Thankful, kasi comeback game na for us kasi nga natalo kami nung last game namin sa NU and ‘yun, thankful kasi nakapag-contribute pa rin ako sa team. Ayun nga, nagka-break…nag-reflect ako and nag-recover,” Poyos said. 

And Poyos’ showing might just be due to the Holy Week break. She reiterated: “Nagkaroon ako ng time mag-reflect, mag-recover, lalo na ‘yung sa tuhod ko. And thankful kasi 100 percent na ‘kong nakabalik and sinimulan ko sa training. Wala naman ako iniinda kaya thankful kasi nabigay ko ‘yung 100 percent ko this game.”

Now in the Final Four, expect UST to defend their top spot. The Tigresses still have to face UP, FEU, UE, and DLSU to close out eliminations. 

NU’s upward trend continues
UAAP volleyball: NU
Alongside Bella Belen, Alyssa Solomon led the way in NU’s mauling of UE. (Photo credit: UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

The NU Lady Bulldogs entered their UAAP volleyball game day with momentum. Of course, they snapped the Golden Tigresses’ unbeaten run prior to the break in convincing fashion. 

Their momentum showed in their straight-set mauling of the UE Lady Warriors. More than the sweep, the Lady Bulldogs won by an average of 11 points per set at 25-14, 25-14, and 25-12. 

Led by Bella Belen and Alyssa Solomon, the Lady Bulldogs also prevented UE from scoring off a block, or service ace. Super rookie Casiey Dongallo was also limited to six points despite being one of UAAP Season 86’s top-scoring threats.

Inaral po kasi talaga namin ‘yung galaw ng UE para na rin samin na mapadali ‘yung galaw and hindi kami mabibigla. Hindi kami magugulat na may mga ganito silang play…para pagdating sa game, alam na namin kung paano sila gumalaw and madadalian na lang kami sa itatrabaho namin,” said Alyssa Solomon, who scored a game-high 14 points. 

With their 8-2 slate, NU will now attempt to close the gap against DLSU. Before their April 14 matchup, NU will be facing the Ateneo Blue Eagles, whose Final Four bid is now in jeopardy. 

FEU boosts Final Four bid
UAAP volleyball: FEU
Faida Bakanke might be peaking at the right time. (Photo Credit: UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

FEU and Ateneo’s Thursday matchup was crucial for both squads. FEU was entering with a 4-4 slate, while then 3-6 Ateneo seemed resurgent heading into the matchup. Late into the season, it seemed like there would be a small fight for the fourth spot.

But on Thursday, FEU orchestrated a gutsy win against Ateneo. Save for a dropped first set, and a mid-fourth set deficit, the Lady Tams convincingly showed they were the better team in a pivotal matchup. 

Besides the crucial win, Congolese rookie Faida Bakanke also had a career-best 16 points, eclipsing her previous high of 14 points. A confidence boost for Bakanke should be crucial for FEU’s last push and would be a welcome development for their Final Four bid. 

Siguro more pa para kay Faida…always aim pa sa better para sa team. Kaya ayun, kaya pa naman Faida. Mas marami pa siyang ipapakita,” FEU head coach Manolo Refugia replied when asked if Bakanke has met his expectations.

Now at 5-4, FEU boosts their Final Four bid, while dimming Ateneo’s. Besides their own slot, the Lady Tams have also assured the playoffs for La Salle and NU. 

On the verge of the playoffs, Refugia refuses to be complacent. Still awaiting them are Adamson, UST, UE, UP, and NU. 

Hindi naman porke’t sinabi na nanalo kami ngayon eh tapos na agad ‘yung usapan. So mayroon pa rin kami kailangan trabahuhin na ibang teams, kaya ayun ‘di pwede maging complacent porke’t tinalo namin si Ateneo today. Syempre ‘yung iba rin naman eh gusto pa rin manalo so trabaho pa rin,” Refugia said. 

Banner image from UAAP Media.

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