UAAP 80 Volleyball Preview: UST looks to ‘overachieve’ anew, targets twice-to-beat
Head coach: Kung Fu Reyes
Last season: 9-5 (no.3)
Key holdovers: Cherry Rondina, Carla Sandoval, Dimdim Pacres
Key losses: EJ Laure, Ria Meneses, Pam Lastimosa
Key addition: Milena Alessandrini
A very famous superhero has the line “up, up, and away” as one of his signature lines, and it seems Kung Fu Reyes has somewhat adapted that catchphrase but with a little twist.
Because for the head coach of University of Santo Tomas, the Golden Tigresses went up and up again, and Reyes hopes they can go up another level one more time.
Since Reyes took over the Golden Tigresses in 2016, the bald headed coach’s “overachieving” team has gone on an upward trajectory and the Army sergeant knows they’re not satisfied with just reaching the Final Four in Season 79.
“Actually, instead of feeling pressured I’m taking this one as a challenge,” said Reyes in Filipino. “We reached the top six in my first year then we doubled our win total in my second year and ended up at third.”
Reyes, who is an alum of UST, first led the Golden Tigresses to a 5-9 record in Season 78 then to the third seed in Season 79 with a 9-5 record.
UST’s sudden rise saw them face La Salle in the Final Four but eventually bowed to the eventual champions in four sets.
“My press release has always been that we will go for the twice-to-beat advantage in Season 80,” said Reyes.
And although Reyes already has his goals set in paper, there are two main pieces that won’t be suiting up for UST come Season 80.
Season 77’s Best Blocker Ria Meneses sat out her final playing year while Season 77 Rookie of the Year EJ Laure is sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Reyes, though, already has a plan on how to compensate for his missing stars in place.
“The good thing is, we already knew that Ria and EJ won’t be with us for Season 80 long before the tournament started,” said Reyes.
“We have prepared for what happened. And a similar thing happened before when Pam [Lastimosa] got injured in my first year. So we already have second options lined up and Carla Sandoval will be the one taking EJ’s place.”
And even though Reyes won’t be having Laure and Meneses, he still has one more explosive trick up his bulging sleeve—Cherry Rondina.
UST’s loudmouthed personification of kinetic energy will be Reyes’ main cog as he prepares to unleash Rondina come Season 80.
Reyes said that Rondina was almost grounded when he assigned the captainship to the Cebuana in Season 79.
And now that senior Shannen Palec has the underline on the jersey number, Reyes believes Rondina will be unbound of any burden except from producing the much-needed offensive power.
“Actually right now, I’m just observing Sisi [Rondina’s nickname] on how she trains, on how she performs, if there’s something wrong,” said Reyes. “I don’t want to burden her with any issues of the court, and I just want her to concentrate on playing.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.