UE sustains volleyball winning streak

April 28, 2024 Theodore P. Jurado 230 views

UNIVERSITY of the East recorded its first three-win season since 2019 as it bested University of the Philippines, 23-25, 25-17, 27-25, 25-22, in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

It was a two-win improvement from last season, where the Lady Warriors finished 1-13, and the Recto-based program’s best campaign since the Kath Arado-led squad also logged three wins in 2019.

“Given the rookies that we have playing, I felt that we did pretty good. Could have done better but very proud of the accomplishments so far,” said UE interim coach Dr. Obet Vital.

Casiey Dongallo capped a sensational rookie season with the Lady Warriors with 28 points, nine digs and five receptions.

Riza Nogales came through with 17 points, including two blocks, while Kaycee Balingit had three blocks for a 10-point showing. Kizzie Madriaga tossed in 12 excellent sets while second-year libero Ange Reyes collected four digs.

UE had an impressive start by ending a 21-match losing streak to Ateneo in the season opener but lost six in the row to end the first round.

The Lady Warriors missed Jelai Gajero, who could have formed a 1-2 punch with Dongallo, as the talented open spiker suffered an ACL injury in the preseason.

“Masaya kasi even though may goal kami na hindi namin nagawa pero nandito pa rin kami nanalo naman kami sa last game namin and naibigay namin yun sa seniors kasi sabi ko sa kanila aalis sila sa UE na iba naman yung history,“ said Dongallo.

Reyes, one of the Lady Warriors holdovers from last season, was happy to see her team grow.

“Sa totoo lang po, noong dumating po talaga sina Doc (Vital), sina Casiey, sina Jelai, sobrang promising po talaga kami. Noong nalaman ko na sa amin po sila, naisip po namin na mag-iimprove po talaga,” said Reyes, who received a fitting birthday gift yesterday by ending the season with a victory.

“Sa season po ngayon, konti pa lang po pero malaking bagay talaga sila. Thankful po talaga kami sa kanila and sa UE community,” said Reyes, referring to the California Academy standouts. “Talagang blessed din po as leader din po nila ng team.”

Reyes and Khy Cepada took the cudgels for the Lady Warriors as key players Ja Lana and Lia Pelaga opted to turn pro.

The Fighting Maroons ended the tournament on a seven-game losing streak, tallying a 1-13 record for a second consecutive year.

Steph Bustrillo scored 15 points, Irah Jaboneta also had 15 points and collected 10 digs and five receptions, while Niña Ytang, who is expected to return to UP next season, added 13 points, including three blocks.

Oliver Almadro, who took over as the Fighting Maroons coach, vowed that the Diliman-based program will go up next year.

In the men’s division, Gelo Lagando and Dan Nicolas joined forces in the fifth set as UP upended UE, 25-19, 18-25, 14-25, 25-20, 15-9, to end its season on a high note.

The Fighting Maroons wrapped up their season with a 2-12 record for seventh place while also getting their revenge over the Red Warriors, who beat them in the first round.

“We’re very happy for where we are right now. We struggled all the way but I think the team has already improved a lot. Results are coming out, we’re very very satisfied with what’s happening,” said Vip Isada, a champion car racer and former national team standout who made a return as UP coach this year.

Loisa Gamban had a match-high 20 points on 18-of-41 kills that went along with 13 receptions and 11 digs, Lagando delivered 15 points, while Dan Nicolas logged 14 points including five blocks, for the Fighting Maroons.

Angelo Reyes had 15 points built on seven blocks Joshua Pozas and Shan Camaymayan tallied 13 points each as the Red Warriors finished eighth with a 1-13 card on a seven-match losing streak.