Volleyball has indeed come a long way in the Philippines. With the rise of the sport in the country, new talents and stars continue to shine in the collegiate leagues, giving us countless reasons to cheer our lungs out, and inspiring us to maintain a fighting spirit towards reaching our dreams.
In part 1 of our list, we listed six players from the NCAA that have what it takes to be torchbearers of Philippine volleyball. This time, we are shifting the focus on the UAAP, which started airing its volleyball season on S+A and S+A HD last February 4 and with livestreaming on sports.abs-cbn.com.
Like predecessors Alyssa Valdez and Rachel Anne Daquis, these volleybelles have gained fans and supporters because of their excellence and hard work as student-athletes. Meet the eight hard-hitting volleyball princesses of UAAP Season 79.
1.) Kim Dy, De La Salle University
While the other Kim – Kim Fajardo – is undeniably the team’s leader, Kim Dy is the X-Factor and the woman of the hour for the Lady Spikers. She proved that last year when she stepped up posting monster numbers, making her presence felt even while playing alongside superstar-teammates Ara Galang and Mika Reyes. Forming a twin-tower combination with Majoy Baron, Kim is expected to lead both scoring and blocking for her team this season as they try to defend their title. Learning how to be a leader surely won’t be difficult for someone who once taught herself how to play the piano just by watching YouTube videos.
2.) Jaja Santiago, National University
Standing 6’6,” Santiago is the tallest female volleyball player in the UAAP, and probably in the entire country. When Jaja decides to fly, no wall at the net can match her height and power. If Santiago can summon her inner fire at any given time, NU will certainly be no pushover despite the loss of former go-to scorer Myla Pablo. Older and more confident than ever, this trekking and traveling aficionado is ripe to bring her team to where they have never gone before — the Finals.
3.) Jia Morado, Ateneo De Manila University
As much as Valdez was phenomenal as the Queen Eagle, she needed teammates of great caliber to bring out the deadly form that crushed kill after kill after kill and that’s what Morado has been for the Lady Eagles since she took over from Fab Five member Jem Ferrer. A cerebral assassin who was UAAP’s Best Setter in Season 77, you can look forward to Morado doing whatever it takes to make the Ateneo engine rev from zero to a hundred with excellent sets to rising stars Jho Maraguinot and Bea De Leon. Her smarts and poise will figure heavily in the Post-Valdez era, and she will have among her supporters someone who can very well understand the pressure she will go through — her elder sister Jessica, who also played for the Blue and White from ’07-’12.
4.) Cherry Ann Rondina, University of Santo Tomas
Rondina has been quite the revelation since she the day she took to the court as part of the Tigresses. Joining forces with EJ Laure and Pam Lastimosa, the newest captain of UST hopes to tow the Tigresses back to their winning ways when they had a Venus Bernal-Mary Jean Balse-Angelique Tabaquero trio leading the offense. When Rondina unloads, it’s like a dynamite went smack against the wall and destroyed it. Yet, many believe this former beach volleyball champion hasn’t even reached the peak of her abilities just yet. Showing no fear and using her speed and leaping ability to get clean kills over taller defenses, no wonder this volleybelle is admired even by fans of other teams.
5.) Bernadeth Pons, Far Eastern University
Pons hits the ball from the outside. Pons hits the ball from the backrow. Pons will hit the ball wherever and whenever, if her team needs her to. If there’s one player who can determine her team’s chances for success this coming season, it’s Pons. Not only is she the team’s heart, but she’s also the competitive soul that fires them up every possession. With Gyzelle Sy bidding the Lady Tams with finality this time, it’s time for Pons to fully embrace the leadership role in the team. For sure, this is no problem for the former softball player-turned darling of the Palarong Pambansa and now proud Queen Tamaraw.
6.) Isa Molde, University of the Philippines
Together with her batchmates Tots Carlos and Justine Dorog, Molde has helped push UP back into the Final Four last year. Isa has a skill set that would remind you of a certain phenom. A deadly floater for a serve? Check. Tricky drop shots that are so hard to defend? Check. A powerful spike that breaks through even a three-man block. Check. Just on her second year, Isa seems ready to bring her team to greatness the way Alyssa Valdez did for Ateneo. Following an emotional exit last season, Isa has all the motivation to make her own mark in the league. Behind her back is a solid group of supporters that believe that she is nothing but “Isa-mazing.”
7.) Shaya Adorador, University of the East
If there’s one thing to describe Adorador, it’ll be “loyal.” The leader of the Lady Red Warriors hasn’t known any other school to represent than the Recto-based spikers since her high school days. Ever since she stepped into the Women’s Volleyball Tournament, Adorador has been the source of inspiration, leadership, and most importantly, points of the Lady Red Warriors as they continue to revive their volleyball program.
8.) Jema Galanza, Adamson University
The new Queen of the Adamson Lady Falcons has a tall order for herself—the Final Four. Galanza joins the likes of talented Adamson outside hitters that made the ladies a dangerous foe in Angela Benting and Bang Pineda. The 20-year-old is now the veteran on a relatively young team and she is hell bent to improve their seventh place finish last season. What makes Galanza standout on the court are her array of attacking skills for she can pound it hard, lull defenders with power tips, and control the game by her mere leaping presence, creating opportunities for the other weapons Adamson can utilize. What makes her more endearing to fans is her quick smile and model-worth looks apart from being the team joker.
Get to know more about the rising volleyball stars of the UAAP as the Women’s Volleyball tournament every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday LIVE simultaneously on S+A and S+A HD. Watch interviews and features on your favorite teams and players before the matches on “UPFRONT at the UAAP” at 1:30pm. For more news, features, and live streaming, visit sports.abs-cbn.com or follow @ABSCBNSports on Twitter and Facebook. Catch the replays on S+A and S+A HD.