What’s Next For The Rest Of The UAAP Season 86 Women’s Volleyball Tournament? 

Who will be the new team to beat? This and other storylines as the second round of the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament heats up.

The second round of the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament is underway, with the first six games being played before the start of Holy Week. With a week-long break approaching, here are some storylines players and fans may want to reflect upon. 

Who will be the new top dog?
UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball
NU’s Bella Belen (right, No. 4) was one of the key cogs in ending UST’s UAAP Season 86 Women’s Volleyball Tournament streak. (Photo credit: UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

On Sunday, the NU Lady Bulldogs dealt the UST Golden Tigresses their first loss in nine games. Led by Bella Belen, Alyssa Solomon, and Vange Alinsug, the Lady Bulldogs orchestrated a 23-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-20 victory over the Tigresses at the Araneta Coliseum. 

Before kasi mag-start ‘yung season gustong-gusto talaga namin manalo pero hindi namin inexpect na ganon ‘yung performance namin nung first game sa UST so ngayon, bumunga naman yung pinaghihirapan namin kahit minsan sa training may nalulungkot pero sobrang saya ko po ngayon,” said Alinsug during the post-game presser.

NU now enters the break with momentum on their side. Have they become the team to beat? Very possible. 

However, it’s hard to count out the rest of the top three. 

Sitting at second are the DLSU Lady Spikers with a 7-1 slate. Recently, the Taft-based squad extended their winning streak to five after a straight-set domination over FEU last Wednesday. 

Save for their first-round thriller vs. NU, the Lady Spikers have won six out of their seven games in straight sets, and in dominant fashion too. 

Additionally, UST remains at the top with their 8-1 record. Only two games in, the Holy Week Break might be the time for Kung Fu Reyes and the squad to regroup and preserve their top spot for the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament. 

Can UST regroup? 
UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball
Can UST regroup for the rest of the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament? (Photo credit: UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

UST’s second round has been shaky so far. To start their campaign, the Tigresses were pushed to a fifth set by the Ateneo Blue Eagles despite holding a 2-0 lead in sets. 

In the NU game, UST’s lone set win was during their back-and-forth opener. Come the succeeding sets, the Lady Bulldogs managed to shut down any hint of momentum for the Tigresses. 

Following the NU loss, Reyes acknowledged the Tigresses’ lapses to resolve. For instance, he observed the Tigresses were unable to convert usually easy points during the matchup. 

No reasons or alibi kung ba’t kami natalo. Talagang nagkulang kami doon sa department ng depensa, ‘di kami nakadepensa. Same din ‘yung blocking namin…ganun din ‘yung sa service namin, so those things na hindi talaga…quality ng isang team na kayang ipanalo ‘yung game, which is kami ‘yun ngayon,” Reyes added in a post-game interview. 

Ang maganda lang, as early as second game ng second round, na nakita namin or naramdaman namin, ‘yung breaking point, nagkasalubong kami ngayong araw,” he added. 

Up next for the Tigresses are the Adamson Lady Falcons on April 3. In their first round encounter, the Lady Falcons were able to take a 25-22 set over the Tigresses, and almost forced a fifth set before falling short in the 28-26 decider. 

A breakout squad? 
UAAP Season 86 women's volleyball
Zel Tsunashima has been a revelation for the resurgent Ateneo Blue Eagles. (UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

With their 3-6 record, the Ateneo Blue Eagles sit at the fifth spot of the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament. Immediately above them are the FEU Lady Tamaraws, with the 4-4 record.

The Blue Eagles though, are no mere pushovers. Despite a rocky first round, the Blue Eagles managed to grab a 2-1 lead over the NU Lady Bulldogs, before the latter escaped in a five-setter.

Then as mentioned, was the five-setter against then-undefeated UST to start their second round. Ateneo’s comeback bid included 25-23 and 28-26 squeakers against the Tigresses, with the fifth set being a close 13-15 loss.

“I’m so proud of the team. UST is the first [placed team] in the first round, they won all [the matches]. And when we start now our second round, we played one of the strongest teams, and my players showed they can play at this level,” said Sergio Veloso, Ateneo’s head coach after the UST loss.  

Ateneo has also seen the emergence of Geezel Tsunashima. Two games into the second round, the spiker has seemingly formed an offensive trio with Lyann de Guzman, and Sobe Buena after a 21-point outing against UST, and a 16-point output against UP two days later. 

At this point, it’s not too far-fetched for Ateneo to complete the Final Four cast. Especially with their newfound confidence, the otherwise rebuilding Blue Eagles might just take over that fourth spot after Holy Week.

Another rookie-MVP?  
UST has struck gold with Angge Poyos. (UAAP Season 86 Media Team)

Onto the individual awards. Since Season 84, a common trend in UAAP women’s volleyball tournaments is the Rookie of the Year-MVP. Bella Belen was the first to achieve this, followed by DLSU’s Angel Canino. 

For UAAP Season 86, UST super rookie Angge Poyos might be on track to preserve that trend. At the end of the first round, Poyos held a league-leading 42.07 percent spiking success rate, to go along with 152 points–only trailing UE’s own super rookie Casiey Dongallo. 

Poyos is also the second-best server after seven games, with a 0.44 average. The super rookie only trails behind her teammate and star setter Cassie Carballo. 

UST has struck gold so far with Angge Poyos. Should she and the rest of the Tigresses regroup successfully, España might just be the home of the latest UAAP women’s volleyball Rookie of the Year-MVP.

Banner Image courtesy of UAAP Season 86 Media Team

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