They may not get the spotlight as much, but they get the job done.
Round 2 of UAAP Season 85 women's volleyball has started with some resounding upsets and broken streaks. New queens have been crowned per squad. Super rookies have been anointed.
And then there are those who work just off the scope of the spotlight. They get the first ball, they keep the play alive, and deliver the points without fanfare.
Time to show the love for some of them.
Jov Fernandez (Far Eastern University Tamaraws)
Frankly, coach Tina Salak's entire team is underrated. They're sitting in the middle with a 5-5 record, but the FEU Tamaraws are scrappy. They survived two five-setters, and no other team can boast that so far. Whether they make it to the Final Four is still up in the air, but the squad in green and yellow is a must-watch in the future.
The key to the Lady Tams' success this season is Jov Fernandez. She tallied 100 attacks, 16 blocks, and 8 aces. The opposite spiker is the seventh-best in the league and is relentless in blocking as well.
The ate of the Lady Tamaraws though won't be able to make such fiery plays without this honorable mention—the indefatigable libero Marga Encarnacion with her floor defense. Iba ang disiplina ni coach Tina.
Imee Hernandez (University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses)
Hear us out. Eya Laure is rightfully the queen right now for the UST Golden Tigresses. Milena Alessandrini, a former Rookie of the Year, is gaining her confidence as shown in that four-set stunner against the De La Salle Lady Spikers. Rookie setter Cassie Carballo and young opposite hitter Regina Jurado are growing into their roles and have shown utterly no fear.
But they wouldn't be able to reach solo third with a 7-3 record without the help of their steady middle blocker, Imee Hernandez. Aside from Laure and DLSU's Jolina dela Cruz, Hernandez is the next best scorer with a triple-double to her name—66 attacks, 12 blocks, and 10 aces.
Hernandez also ranks with Jurado and Laure in the top 10 servers in the league.
Flowers would also have to be given to UST's Bernadett Pepito, the only libero with over 50% efficiency in receptions and is in triple digits (128) in excellent receives. That victory over the then-undefeated La Salle—a top blocking and spiking team—would not be possible without Pepito's 25 excellent digs and 11 excellent receptions.
KC Cepada and Van Bangayan (University of the East Lady Warriors)
The UE Lady Warriors have a bright future in UST high school standouts KC Cepada and Van Bangayan. These two opposite spikers are in constant beast mode for UE.
UE has yet to pick up a win this season, but the Lady Warriors could be a contender in the next few years if they keep both Cepada and Bangayan in the mix.
Karen Verdeflor (Adamson University Lady Falcons)
A setter knows it all starts with a good first ball. And for top setter Louie Romero, her plays will start with libero Karen Verdeflor. She's actually second in receptions at 46.67% efficiency, outranking Season 84 Best Libero Jen Nierva. And with the Lady Falcons in solo second at 7-2, that quality is invaluable.
Justine Jazareno (De La Salle University Lady Spikers)
DLSU Lady Spiker Justine Jazareno has lodged out FEU's Encarnacion as the top digger in the league in the second round, tallying 3.79 per set. While Encarnacion and Pepito have actually delivered more excellent digs, Jazareno made considerably less faults in floor defense. And that is crucial for a championship contender team.
You might have noticed that there are a lot of liberos on this list, and as a whole they're quite underrated. They sacrifice their bodies for pancakes and dives to keep the ball alive at a split second. It's an exhausting job, and they deserve the love. too.