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Lady Spikers eye early UAAP lead


‘The players still have yet to blend.’


Games today:

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

10 a.m. — La Salle vs FEU (m)

12 noon — UE vs UST (m)

2 p.m. — La Salle vs FEU (w)

4 p.m. — UE vs UST (w)


Defending champion De La Salle University guns for an early lead in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

La Salle battles Far Eastern University at 2 p.m. while University of the East, loaded with young talents, squares off with University of Santo Tomas at 4 p.m.

In men’s play, the Golden Spikers shoot for a second straight victory as they face the Red Warriors at 12 noon.

The Tamaraws and the Green Spikers clash in a rematch of last season’s step-ladder duel at 10 a.m., with both squads eyeing win No. 2.

Despite losing Jolina dela Cruz, Mars Alba, Fifi Sharma, and libero Justine Jazareno, La Salle proved it could still slug it out and go toe-to-toe behind holdovers Angel Canino, Julia Coronel, Thea Gagate, Em Povido and Lyka de Leon.

Last time it took center stage, the 12-time champion La Salle posted a straight-sets victory over Adamson, giving coach Ramil de Jesus his 300th triumph.

Shooting for back-to-back UAAP crowns, there is still room for improvement for the Lady Spikers, who have the tallest roster in the league.

“The players still have yet to blend,” De Jesus said.

FEU, meanwhile, is undergoing its first big test under coach Manolo Refugia, who refuses to get overly excited following the squad’s demolition of University of the Philippines.

“The first game should give us an idea how to treat the coming games. Our chemistry will be tested and our buildup will likewise be put to a test,” Refugia said.

“The relationship between the coaches and players are also be tested.”

Gerzel Petallo, Chenie Tagaod, Jean Asis and Tin Ubaldo were solid in the opener, as the Lady Tamaraws hope that Congo’s Faida Bakanke will have a better effort after debuting with just six points.

UST rookie Angeline Poyos, who seemed not satisfied in her 16-point debut in a stunning straight-set romp National University, knows that UE, with newbie Casiey Dongallo firing in 27 points to end a 21-match losing streak against Ateneo on opening day, is not to be messed with.

“The game will boil down to toughness because we both have rookies and the players have skills,” said Poyos, who matched fellow greenhorn Margaret Banagua’s three blocks.

The Lady Warriors, who watched the Tigresses’ victory last Sunday, are taking things step by step to turn the Recto-based program from being perennial also-rans to Final Four contenders.

“We will just do our best throughout this season. Our goal for this season is to improve’s UE’s standing because we lost key players likeJa (Lana),” Dongallo said.

“Doc (Obet Vital, assistant coach) said it will take time.”

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