Defending UAAP crown will be difficult, Lady Spikers coach admits

Ralph Edwin Villanueva -
February 12, 2024 | 6:39pm
Defending UAAP crown will be difficult, Lady Spikers coach admits
La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo
UAAP Media Bureau

MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant -- Reigning UAAP women’s volleyball champions La Salle Lady Spikers will have a tough time defending their title in the upcoming UAAP Season 86 volleyball competition, a coach said.

La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo, on Monday, said that with a target at their backs, it will be harder for them to defend the championship.

“This season will be harder, because we are the defending champions. Unlike before when we were the ones chasing, we are now being chased by all teams,” the deputy told reporters in Filipino.

“And we also have a number of players lost. Although we are prepared, we will see in the games what we have improved in terms of our preparation,” he added.

Orcullo underscored that for this season, all teams are powerful and can contend, which makes it more challenging for La Salle.

In the offseason, Finals MVP Mars Alba, Best Outside Hitter Jolina dela Cruz, Fifi Sharma and Justine Jazareno left the team.

For this season, the Lady Spikers will be led by key cogs Angel Canino, Alleiah Malaluan, Shevana Laput, Thea Gagate and Julia Coronel, to name a few.

“Their improvement is still there, continuous, and every day, we are seeing it. They are always improving,” Orcullo said.

“And we are just telling the young guns to be ready with whatever the situation comes,” he added.

The team joined the Shakey’s Super League National Invitationals last year, which they won. They also had a training camp in Thailand before the start of the season.

For her part, Gagate said that they are “very confident” in retaining the title this season.

“We’re very confident [in] getting the back-to-back championships, and we’ll definitely work hard for it, together,” she said.

La Salle’s title defense will start on Saturday, when the new UAAP volleyball season kicks off at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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