Inquirer 7 top UAAP 80 women’s volleyball players: Week 1
Every week, INQUIRER Sports will be ranking the seven best performers in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament. The author will base the rankings on the players’ team standings, statistics, and the intangibles that don’t appear on the stat sheets.
Volleyball fever has finally struck and with three of the first four games ending in five sets, the mercury just went haywire.
The eight teams of the UAAP all had their first taste of the competition and here are the best seven players from the first week of Season 80 volleyball.
1. Mary Joy Baron (De La Salle University, middle blocker)
She’s the defending MVP and she rightfully held fort for her queendom.
Mary Joy Baron showed the poise in leading defending champion De La Salle over University of Santo Tomas in five sets, 25-20, 17-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-8.
Baron’s name was in every scoring category for the Lady Spikers as her 19 total points composed of 12 spikes, five blocks, and two service aces.
That quiet production perfectly exemplified her equally silent approach to UAAP royalty in Season 79.
2. Bernadeth Pons (Far Eastern University, outside hitter)
The OG stat sheet stuffer hasn’t lost a beat since filling up every conceivable numerical category back in Season 79.
And Bernadeth Pons once again displayed her versatility in Far Eastern University’s season opener win against Ateneo, 19-25, 25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 15-9.
Her 14 total points comprised of 12 spikes and two blocks but it wasn’t just in the offensive side of things that Pons made an impact.
The FEU captain had 13 excellent digs, the same as Ateneo’s libero Jenelle Lo, and 16 excellent receptions and that mark was four more than what Lo recorded.
3. Jaja Santiago (National University, middle blocker)
Let’s head into the “if” part of this list.
Back in Season 79, this list contained several “what ifs” and that won’t go anywhere this Season 80 as Jaja Santiago had the first “if” performance this year.
Santiago had 16 points in National University’s victory over Adamson University, 25-15, 25-23, 16-25, 25-13, in what turned out to be the only match in the opening weekend that didn’t go to the fifth set.
Now, Santiago is a consistent 20-point scorer and she did win the Best Attacker, Best Blocker, and Best Scorer awards in Season 79 and that is where the “if” suddenly gets its footing.
If Santiago scored upwards of 20 points against the Lady Falcons, she could’ve been at the top of the list but with her 16 points considered subpar to her standards she dropped to third.
4. Toni Rose Basas (Far Eastern University, opposite hitter)
Pons’ partner in crime makes an appearance on this list for one defining factor.
Toni Rose Basas is clutch.
She and Pons both had 14 points against Ateneo but Basas scored her last three points in the most crucial of times and in the uncommon of ways.
With the fifth set tied at 9-9, Basas was tasked to get the ball over the net from the service line.
Basas would not only serve the ball, but she scored three straight times with FEU not having to defend.
Her three straight service aces decked out Ateneo in the unlikeliest of methods as the Lady Tamaraws eventually held on to win.
5. Isa Molde (University of the Philippines, outside hitter)
Enter another clutch lady.
University of the Philippines squandered a two-set advantage over Season 79 pawn University of the East in the two teams’ first match of 2018.
The Lady Maroons were up two sets to nothing and just needed to close things out in the third set, but the final chapter just had to be written in the fifth and deciding period.
UP could’ve ultimately lost its first game had it not for Molde’s heroic to lift the Lady Maroons 25-19, 25-13, 21-25, 16-25, 15-8.
Molde first sent the ball down UE’s sideline to give UP the 13-8 lead in the fifth, and after Roselle Baliton hit net that put the Lady Maroons at match point, the former Rookie of the Year sent another one towards the Lady Warriors’ way to finish the deal.
UP’s hitter finished with 20 points, two less than what captain Diana Carlos did, but Molde did show the guts in the end game.
6. Dawn Macandili (De La Salle University, libero)
The libero position was never considered the glamour spot in volleyball.
With all that diving and playing without having the opportunity to score, it’s a job that hardly draws attention.
And yet Dawn Macandili showed that the defensive position is a post that turns coal to diamonds.
Asia’s second best libero showed her worth for the Lady Spikers when she anchored the defense of the defending champions and cleaned up when her taller teammates found difficulty against the monstrosity that Baron described.
Macandili, who stands at exactly five feet, recorded 19 excellent receptions 35 excellent digs as she dueled with the no.7 player on this list.
7. Cherry Rondina (University of Santo Tomas, outside hitter)
She’s the monster that pushed La Salle to its limit.
Cherry Rondina was hell bent on showing the entire UAAP community that she’s a force to be reckoned with and she will stop at nothing to prove her devotion to UST.
The Golden Tigress scored 28 points, the most in the opening weekend of Season 80, as she continually punished La Salle despite UST losing the game in five sets.
This offensive display left La Salle bamboozled and the team’s figureheads were in unison that Rondina has been unleashed.
“When the game was over I told her ‘you’re a monster,’” said La Salle’s Kianna Dy.
“I think Rondina’s aggressiveness sometimes takes away our confidence when we prepare for a block,” said Baron.
“Before there was [three-time MVP] Alyssa [Valdez], but now there’s Rondina. “We don’t have someone like Rondina, UST has, she will do whatever it takes to lift her team up.”
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