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Hopes high on De los Santos

University of the Philippines is bringing in a veteran mentor to snap its 40-year title drought in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines women’s volleyball tournament.

The Lady Maroons formalized their hiring of Shaq de los Santos as their head coach for Season 85 of the country’s most prestigious collegiate league.

De los Santos, who coached the national squad in the 18th Asian Games in 2018 and the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019, will be taking the coaching reins following the resignation of Kenyan tactician Godfrey Okumu on 31 July.

He will lead the coaching staff that has Mozzy Ravena as consultant.

The UP women’s volleyball team would like to welcome Coach Shaq de los Santos as our new head coach,” the team said in a social media announcement.

“We believe in you Coach and can’t wait to see what you have in store for the team.”

De los Santos’ arrival will be a big boost to the UP women’s volleyball program.

Aside from being a former national team player and coach, De los Santos will also be bringing his wealth of experience from the collegiate ranks as he steered University of Santo Tomas to the UAAP title in 2009 and Far Eastern University to Final Four appearances from 2014 to 2017.

At the club level, he steered Petron to a handful of glorious finishes in the Philippine Superliga before moving to the Premier Volleyball League to power Cignal to back-to-back bronze medal performances.

De los Santos will inherit a Lady Maroons side that is looking to win its first title since 1982.

Although the Lady Maroons made a breakthrough Final Four appearance in Season 78 in 2016, they still missed the semifinal in three of the past four seasons under Okumu.

Last season, the Lady Maroons finished with an underwhelming 5-9 win-loss slate, putting to waste the stellar rookie season of Alyssa Bertolano.

Ravena said they are pinning their hopes on De los Santos.

“Coach Shaq already has vast experience in collegiate being with UST and FEU in the past,” Ravena, the mother of Gilas Pilipinas standouts Kiefer and Thirdy as well as former Ateneo libero Dani, said.

“It’s also a bonus that coach Goddy (Okumu) left a lot of talent so he will not have problems with the team. The girls are excited to play for him.”

The Lady Maroons are the third team to change coaches after FEU tapped Tina Salak and Adamson hired Jerry Yee.

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