Whether or not you are from any of the UAAP participating schools, the excitement for the Women’s Volleyball Tournament is all the same.
Held last February 3, Saturday, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, the ever loyal crowd of the sport gathered again to witness the opening of UAAP Season 80 with a new generation of soon-to-be volleyball superstars.
With the departure from the tournament of star players like Lady Eagle Jia Morado and Lady Spiker Kim Fajardo, among others, Season 80 is unpredictable. Each school turned the spotlight to these promising players who we all should be looking forward to play every time they step in the court!
Chiara Permentilla – Adamson University (AdU)
Developed as a volleyball player in as early as her elementary years in Florence, Italy, this 5’8 outside hitter is a transferee from De La Salle-Lipa, and now joins the Lady Falcons in an effort to redeem themselves from their previous 1-13 win-loss Season 79 record. Permentilla has been gaining attention since the Premier Volleyball League (PVL) Open Conference last year, where she contributed 24 points in one of their games with her impressive cross-court hits and off-the-block kills. On Adamson’s first game this season held last Saturday, they surrendered to the National University Lady Bulldogs after four sets. 20-year-old Permentilla, who debuted with 12 points, proved to be a promising player who will be instrumental in the games ahead.
Risa Sato – National University (NU)
Awarded as the Best Middle Blocker in the PVL Open Conference last year, the 5’10 Filipino-Japanese Risa Sato is always all smiles in the court, but her lighthearted persona doesn’t take away her serious play when in games. Having failed the entrance examination of Ateneo de Manila University due to her non-familiarity of the English language, NU became her home. Sato was a high school standout when she used to play volleyball in Osaka, Japan, and with Lady Bulldogs finishing a 7-7 win-loss record last season, NU banks on its rising star players including her, who is known for solid kill-blocks and thunderous quick-hits. On their first game against Adamson last Saturday, Sato scored 8 points, in contribution to their first win this season. NU earned their second straight win yesterday, at the expense of Ateneo, with Sato supplying 8 points for the team.
Milena Alessandrini – University of Santo Tomas (UST)
Standing at 6-foot-1, Filipino-Italian Milena Alessandrini is undeniably an intimidating force, that even the Golden Tigresses veteran Cherry “Sisi” Rondina admitted that she feared for her spot the moment Alessandrini stepped in the court for their first practice. As the newest open hitter of UST women’s volleyball team, the España-based squad hopes that Allesandrini fills in for the loss of scorer EJ Laure, and is expected to also boost her team’s frontline defense after the departure of middle blocker Ria Meneses. The UST Golden Tigresses finished third last season. With the dominating presence of 21-year-old Alessandrini who scored 18 points in her first game for UAAP last Saturday, and contributing 6 markers and 6 excellent receptions for the team yesterday, UST is hopeful to bring back its golden era.
Michelle Cobb – De La Salle University (DLSU)
As the defending champions, DLSU Lady Spikers are determined to keep their supremacy in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament, and with the help of 5’4 rookie setter, Michelle Cobb, the odds may be in their favor. Cobb is said to emulate the playing skills of former Lady Spiker setter, Kim Fajardo, who also is her favorite local athlete. This 18-year-old Behavioral Science major twice received the Women’s National Collegiate Athlete Association (WNCAA) Best Setter Award, and was one of the highly-anticipated players to continue playing in the collegiate league. On DLSU’s thrilling five-setter match against the equally-competitive Golden Tigresses last Saturday, Cobb finished with 37 excellent sets.
Judith Abil – University of the East (UE)
In an interview, UE’s outside hitter Judith Abil admitted that she is not as jolly when alone as much as when she is with her squad, and her energy continues to flow in the court as soon as they play as Lady Warriors. Her cheerful persona is also the reason why she got into volleyball back in high school, and eventually participated in Palarong Pambansa. Now on her third year, Abil’s presence demands more attention than ever. With having only one victory in the previous season, Abil aims to improve UE’s 1-13 win-loss record. Last Sunday, February 4, competing against the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons in a five-setter match, Abil proved herself to be a key player as she finished with 12 points off 6 spikes, 3 service aces and 2 blocks, with 13 excellent digs. Yesterday, though in yet another defeat against UST, Abil scored the second highest among Lady Warriors with 9 points.
Justine Dorog – University of the Philippines (UP)
The third year open spiker turned libero of UP Lady Maroons has always stood out in games, so much so that when she had a bad fall and hurt her knee in one of their PVL Collegiate Conference games last year, she persisted to play through pain. No wonder why she is deemed the “Do-It-All” Lady Maroon. Coming all the way from the Queen City of the South, Cebu City, Dorog has been playing since grade school with another Lady Maroons veteran Isa Molde. Both Dorog and Molde scored double digits in their thrilling five-setter duel against the Lady Warriors last Sunday, with 11 and 22 points, respectively. Dorog undoubtedly plays a key role in improving the 7-7 win-loss record of the Lady Maroons last season.
Deanna Wong – Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU)
As the newest starting setter for the Lady Eagles, the pressure is on for the 5’7 Deanna Wong, especially that the position she now holds had been occupied by the former Best Setter Jia Morado for four seasons. Cebu native Wong played as libero in Season 79, where AdMU once again appeared in the Finals but lost to its long-time rival Lady Spikers. Now that she gets to play her natural position, Wong has never been so confident in the court. However, AdMU fell short in their first game of the season last Sunday against the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, with Wong scoring 4 points with 40 excellent sets. Wong also supplied Ateneo with 3 points yesterday but the Lady Bulldogs stayed undefeated, giving Ateneo a 0-2 start.
Celine Domingo – Far Eastern University (FEU)
Previously a rookie and the captain of the Lady Warriors, this 5’10 Caviteña made her first appearance as a member of the Morayta-based squad in the 13th Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference back in 2016. Sitting out in the previous UAAP season for her residency and eligibility, where the Lady Tamaraws placed fourth, Domingo is now a force to reckon with as she finally participates in FEU’s Season 80 campaign. On their five-setter thriller against the Lady Eagles last Sunday, Domingo’s comeback in court was surely worth the wait as she contributed 10 points for FEU, clinching their first win of the season.