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UAAP 75 WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW

The De La Salle Lady Spikers are on track for their third consecutive UAAP women's volleyball crown, but they will get stiff competition from the rest of the league as the UAAP Season 75 women's volleyball tournament unfurls on Decemeber 1.

 

BALLS Channel previews all eight teams and gives it fearless forecast.

 

De La Salle University

 

Cha Cruz, the heart and soul of De La Salle University's two-year championship run, is gone after a long collegiate career. But the brains, the hands, the feet and virtually everyone else on the Lady Spikers' champion team have remained.

 

Expect La Salle to flaunt their devastating form once more, with reigning league MVP Abigail Marano, two-time Best Blocker Michele Gumabao and 2011-12 Rookie of the Year Ara Galang leading their charge.

 

Wensh Tiu takes over Cruz's place in the rotation while Mika Reyes, Mel Gohing and Kim Fajardo make the Lady Spikers all the more formidable.

 

Projected record: 13-1

 

Ateneo de Manila University

 

Season 75 will be an end of what Lady Eagles' fans call the "Fab Five" era and what better way to finish the collegiate careers of Gretchen Ho, Fille Cainglet, Jem Ferrer, Dzi Gervacio and A Nacachi than with a championship.

 

Their successful run to the V-League crown bodes well for the Blue and White, who will also have the still-phenomenal Alyssa Valdez on the roster plus a slew of blue-chip rookies like Marge Tejada, Jirah Llaneta and Gizelle Tan.

 

Whether Mae Tajima is ready to take the role of a starter remains to be seen, but make no mistake, the Lady Eagles are the biggest threats to De La Salle's three-peat hopes.

 

Projected record: 10-4

 

University of Santo Tomas

 

The graduation of setter Rhea Dimaculangan puts the onus on young Loren Lantin, who displayed her big-game chops by coming up big for the Golden Tigresses in games against Ateneo last year and in the V-League finals.

 

Lantin has proven to be good in small doses and Season 75 will be the time when we will be able to gauge if she will be able to conduct UST's offense that features the powerful troika of Maru Banaticla, Judy Caballejo and 2011 Best Attacker Maika Ortiz.

 

Aside from questionable depth at the middle position, the Tigresses possess a lineup that has what it takes to contend not only for a Final Four spot, but one that can challenge De La Salle's two-year reign.

 

Projected record: 9-5

 

National University

 

Dindin Santiago and Jen Reyes will now be in harness for the Lady Bulldogs, and that could only mean good things for NU, which could only muster two wins in 2011-12.

 

The addition of the athletic Santiago, who torched defenses in the 9th Shakey's V-League 1st Conference, and the return of Reyes, who was the Season 73 Best Digger, bolster a squad that already features scoring machine Cai Nepomuceno.

 

Making the Final Four is a distinct possibility. However, it would be easier said than done, as the Lady Bulldogs need to consistently show the on-court maturity and composure that they did not have last season.

 

Projected record: 8-6

 

Adamson University

 

With longtime coach Dulce Pante already retired, the Lady Falcons enter a new era with former top Pante assistant Sherwin Meneses handling the coaching chores for Adamson.

 

They still possess the same group of reliable attackers in Bhebs Pineda, Pau Soriano and Mayette Zapanta and setter May Macatuno, who injured her right hand in the Lady Falcons' failed bid for the Final Four in Season 74, is back to orchestrate Adamson's offense.

 

Blocking will be a problem for the smaller Lady Falcons, who will also have to deal with the loss of 2011 Best Receiver Angel Vasquez, who decided not to play out her last year of eligibility.

 

Projected record: 7-7

 

Far Eastern University

 

The Lady Tamaraws are coming off an impressive Final Four finish last season. And with an intact group, hopes are high that the Morayta-based squad will improve on their finish and maybe even contend for the crown.

 

Unfortunately for the FEU faithful, it will be a harder climb than usual, what with other teams beefing up their squads with new acquisitions.

 

The Lady Tamaraws will be in the mix for at least a semifinals seat, but nothing is guaranteed for this team led by last year's Best Setter Gyzel Sy, Best Scorer Rose Vargas and Best Digger Christine Agno.

 

Projected record: 6-8

 

University of the Philippines

 

Fresh off a completely forgettable 0-14 campaign in Season 74, the Lady Maroons enter the year with a revamped roster featuring at least five rookies.

 

Gone are the likes of Angeli Araneta, South Ramos, Joyce Palad and Pau Genido. Leading the Diliman crew's charge now are Princess Gaiser, Hannah Mangulabnan, Aliyah Ong and Kathy Bersola.

 

Setter Aia del Mundo captains this team, which according to coach Jarod Hubalde, will most likely not make it to the Final Four but will produce much better performances than their 2011-12 group.

 

Projected record: 2-12

 

University of the East

 

Last year's leading scorers skipper Jimberly Dawn Dizon and Kit Rosale have used up their playing years so the Lady Warriors will be relying more on their outside hitters Shiesa Nebrida and Sarina Faith Bulan to jump start their hopes.

 

Though small in stature, Nebrida and Bulan are powerful enough to bury opponents with their hits, but aside from other veterans in Grace Masangkay and the beautiful Leuseht Dawis, UE will feature a squad that doesn't necessarily excite you in terms of talent and experience.

 

Projected record: 1-13

 

FINAL FOUR
1. DLSU
2. ADMU
3. UST
4. NU

DLSU over NU (1-0)
ADMU over UST (1-1)

DLSU over ADMU (2-1)

 

BALLS Channel will air replays of the UAAP 75 women's volleyball tournament on SkyCable Channel 34 and Destiny Channel 36.