With key players out, UST Tigresses still figuring out best lineup for UAAP Season 81
MANILA, Philippines—The UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament is about to start in a month’s time but University of Santo Tomas still has to finalize its lineup.
Head coach Kung Fu Reyes said only a handful are assured of spots in the Golden Tigresses’ roster with some still being deliberated on.
Reyes said Cherry Rondina, Milena Alessandrini, rookie Eya Laure, Dimdim Pacres, and Caitlyn Viray are the ones assured of representing UST in the UAAP while the other players still have to fight for the vacant spots.
“Sisi, Eya, Milena, Dimdim, because we lack players in the wing, and Caitlyn because we don’t have a middle blocker so she’ll become our go-to in that area,” said Reyes in Filipino during the team’s Thursday practice at Quadricentennial Pavilion.
“There are three possible rookies who might be included but I really can’t name names for now because there’s still no official lineup yet although we’ve submitted a list to the UAAP already.”
The Golden Tigresses will head on to the 2019 tournament without EJ Laure, the Season 77 co-Rookie of the Year with Kath Arado, and Tin Francisco due to injuries but Reyes is confident his team can back from their dreadful Season 80 campaign.
UST finished Season 80 with the second-worst record in the league at 4-10, just a couple of games ahead of eighth seed University of the East at 2-12, but Reyes said they can turn things around.
“It was really a roller coaster ride on what happened to us last season where we just plummeted,” said Reyes. “We had a lot of unfortunate incidents at the start where we had a couple of injuries so we weren’t able to compete with a full roster.”
Alessandrini, who eventually became Season 80’s Rookie of the Year, and libero Rica Rivera both missed several games in 2018 due to injuries and the Golden Tigresses failed to recover from the set back the rest of the year.
UST started out the tournament with a pedestrian 2-2 record but lost five straight to practically rule itself out of the Final Four.
“There were a lot of factors but at the end of the day we are the ones responsible for all of these,” said Reyes. “Our campaign this season considerably looks brighter from the one before because the players are healthy, I just wish Tin is here so we can have a full lineup.”
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