UAAP Volleyball Final Four: What It Means For Each Contender

Whether it’s a championship run, a statement made, or a little bit of both, here’s what the Season 86 UAAP volleyball Final Four can hold for this season’s best.

Just like that, the Final Four season is in full swing for the Season 86 UAAP Women’s Volleyball Tournament. While the top three of National University, University of Santo Tomas, and De La Salle University continue their push for a twice-to-beat advantage, the best of the best UAAP volleyball squads have officially set themselves apart late into the competition.

As we wait for the top three to sort themselves out, let’s take a look at what the Season 86 UAAP Volleyball Final Four can mean for this year’s top dogs. 

UST Golden Tigresses: A statement run, or much-needed maturity 
UAAP volleyball final four: UST
Even with a rookie core, UST is on its way to the Final Four. (Photo Credit: UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

The Tigresses are a surprise team for UAAP Season 86 volleyball. Being a youth-laden team, it was hard to predict them being a top-three squad, or even going undefeated for the first half of the season. 

Yet they did, with a high-octane offense and impressive floor defense that’s enough to elicit praises just about every time. Along the way, there were early upsets over defending champs La Salle Lady Spikers, and Season 85 runners-up NU Lady Bulldogs.

Regardless of their final seeding, the big question is whether these Tigresses can perform in the Final Four. Stakes are higher in playoff rounds, and it’s when the best of the best truly shine. Naturally, the Tigresses should not be exempt from this double standard. 

While uncertain, a deep UST run would cap off an impressive season for them, whether it’s the elusive UAAP volleyball championship or just a mere finals berth. Even if it has cost them at times, such a feat may lessen criticisms against the Tigresses’ youth too. 

And if they do win the title, the Tigresses would become the third-straight team to do so with a super rookie leading the way alongside…La Salle and NU.

But if UST once again falters, simply making it to the UAAP volleyball Final Four gives them much-needed maturity. Barring any players’ shift to the pros, this squad should still be intact…ironically because of their young ages.

NU Lady Bulldogs: Redemption with a possible shot at payback
UAAP volleyball final four: NU
Nothing less than a championship for the NU Lady Bulldogs. (Photo Credit: UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

NU enters the Season 86 UAAP volleyball Final Four with a championship-or-bust mindset. After all, their repeat bid was foiled by Angel Canino’s La Salle Lady Spikers last season after a 16-0 sweep in UAAP Season 84. 

Save for seniors like Jen Nierva graduating, most of NU’s roster remains unchanged three years in. Given this, everyone should carry the same hunger to reclaim the UAAP volleyball throne. 

Currently, the odds are in favor of the Lady Bulldogs to complete its redemption bid. After a mediocre first round, the Lady Bulldogs seemingly rediscovered their championship form in the second round, with no signs of slowing down soon either. 

As a bonus, though, NU may also be able to avenge their Season 85 heartbreak against La Salle. Should they fall to the two and three seeds, a Finals rematch may take place earlier than expected in the UAAP volleyball Final Four.

La Salle Lady Spikers: Nothing less than a repeat 
UAAP volleyball final four: La Salle
Don’t let their recent performance fool you, La Salle is championship material still. (Photo Credit: UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

Simply put, La Salle is also in a championship-or-bust situation. But in their case, it’s about defending the title and pulling off a rare title repeat. 

At full health, the Lady Spikers’ chances remain high. Excluding much of the second round, the defending champs’ first eight elimination games have reassured that they’re still a well-oiled machine, a title team, per se. 

Sure, there was their loss to UST, and a scare from NU early on, but otherwise, the Lady Spikers have been dominant in their succeeding matchups. This, despite losing seniors Mars Alba and Jolina dela Cruz to graduation, and Fifi Sharma and Justine Jazareno to a sudden shift to the pros. 

Still in Taft, though, is Angel Canino most importantly. Accompanying her is veteran blocker Thea Gagate, third-year spiker Alleiah Malaluan, and second-year Shevana Laput to name a few. And if La Salle manages to be complete by the Final Four, trust that this Ramil de Jesus-coached core has a solid shot to end a roller-coaster season on a high. 

If the stars align for the defending champs, they would be winning La Salle and Ramil de Jesus’ 13th championship. Additionally, they would be one step closer to another three-peat, a feat their seniors achieved twice in the 2010s.

FEU Lady Tamaraws: A turning point in their rebuild
UAAP volleyball final four: NU
FEU is making a well-deserved return to the Final Four after a two-season absence. (Photo Credit: UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

FEU has been on the rise since their cellar-dwelling UAAP Season 84 campaign. From a 3-11 slate that year to a fifth-seed finish under Tina Salak in Season 85, the Lady Tamaraws have officially returned to the playoffs this year under rookie coach Manolo Refugia.

From a narrow grasp on the fourth seed, the Lady Tams went on a timely run to solidify their Final Four return. The best of this, was their recent upset over top-seeded UST wherein they recovered from a 2-1 deficit in sets. 

Along the way, was the timely emergence of Congolese hitter Faida Bakanke. From so-so performances early on, the foreign student-athlete started to find her stride, which culminated in a career-high 21 points in their Final four clinching win over UST. 

While we’ve yet to see the Tams’ final three games — particularly against NU — one thing’s for sure: they’re entering the Final Four with much-improved confidence. After all, they’ve evolved from a likely Final Four team to a certain one. 

Will FEU be a dark horse? As the saying goes, bilog ang bola.

Regardless, their entry to the Season 86 UAAP volleyball Final Four shows a bright future in Morayta. From a 3-11 record in 2022 to a Final Four bid in 2024? A lot to be proud of for the 29-time UAAP volleyball champs, no matter what fate awaits them. 

Banner Image courtesy of UAAP Season 86 Media Team.

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