New dawn for UE?
The numbers are daunting for University of the East. Over their last 140 games in the UAAP, the Lady Warriors have lost 125 matches—a dismal output that can lead to bigger problems, like a persistent culture of pessimism.
“Changing the team’s image is hard and I’m not even looking at the [other] schools [yet],” second-year coach Karl Dimaculangan said. That’s why in preparing for UAAP Season 82’s volleyball tournament, he’s starting with the team’s mind-set.
“This won’t be the same UE team,” Dimaculangan said. “We’ll compete.”
His optimism is shared by senior Seth Rodriguez, who is ready to take on the mantle of leadership for a squad that won just three games last season and then lost key stars to graduation.
“I know I’m ready to lead the team,” Rodriguez said. “From a scale of 1 to 10, I think I’m a seven right now after all the experience in the UAAP and also from [playing in] commercial leagues.”
“We’re looking at this season one game at a time,” Dimaculangan said.
That begins on Tuesday when UE takes on a school with Final Four aspirations to finally lift the curtains off the tournament that was delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Lady Warriors battle the Far Eastern U Lady Tamaraws, who also lost a lot of key stars from last season’s fourth-place team.
FEU will be without Jerrili Malabanan, Kyle Negrito, Celine Domingo and Heather Guino-o, leaving the reins of the squad to the likes of Jeanette Villareal, Ria Duremdes, Anjel Cayuna and Lycha Ebon.
UE, meanwhile, lost star Judith Abil, playmaker Lai Bendong and libero Kath Arado to graduation along with Rodriguez’s blocking partner, Roselle Baliton.
But Rodriguez hopes she and Mean Mendrez can shepherd a young UE squad to a more respectable finish this season.
“We have to help each other fill those absences,” she said.
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