May 25, 2024

Rise As One: Most memorable moments of UAAP Season 85 women's volleyball

Rise As One: Most memorable moments of UAAP Season 85 women
Art by Royce Nicdao

Season 85 of women's volleyball has come to pass in the UAAP. The champions have been hailed, the celebrations are done, the confetti have been cleared.

Before the offseason moves truly heat up, let's look back at the moments that stunned, the moments that slayed, and the moments that have us stop to say, "What do you think?"

Streak-bUSTers: Eya Laure and the Golden Tigresses

There is a whole debate on whether University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses Eya Laure was snubbed for the MVP plum, or any other award for this season, but this is not what this is about.

Coach Kungfu Reyes' players have roared and put the league on notice after breaking a series of streaks in Season 85.

Case number one: Busting the National University Lady Bulldogs' 20-game win streak.

In a dramatic five-set thriller full of setbacks and comebacks, UST handed the then-defending champions their first defeat since Season 81, April 27, 2019. It was also at the hands of the Golden Tigresses. 

  

Case number two: Busting the De La Salle Lady Spikers' hopes of a sweep.

Come the second round, the grim reaper of streaks came knocking at the undefeated Lady Spikers' door and slayed their hopes of a sweep and a stepladder playoffs. The ladies from España halted the Taft girls' Season 85 streak at nine in four sets.

 

Case number three: Busting Ateneo's dominance over UST

Laure, Imee Hernandez, Milena Alessandrini, Regina Jurado, Cassie Carballo, and Bernadett Pepito solidified their contender status after sweeping the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the elimination round, UST's first since Season 71. 

  

Reyes should be proud of his streak-busting and feisty Golden Tigresses. And it's only ironic that a group of female tigers are called, well, a streak.

Unbothered Trisha Tubu

Go to any comments section of any Adamson Lady Falcons or Trisha Tubu highlights and you'll see. There's a lot of questions, but mostly there's a lot of snarky comments and a lot of insults on the young Tubu and her appearance.

The Philippine sports community, and the volleyball scene in particular, has a lot of navel-gazing and reflecting to do if they think volleybelles can only look a certain way. In a culture and heritage as diverse as the Philippines? Really? 

Tubu though has seen and heard all of it since high school. And she has been feeding off it to silence all haters against Adamson.

 

Tina, Tin, and the tireless Tamaraws

Tina Salak is a legendary setter. And she is a relentless drillmaster, who the Far Eastern Tamaraws have a lot to learn from, if playmaker Tin Ubaldo has anything to say about it. They are the best diggers in the league after all. 

She's a wealth of knowledge. She did learn from the best after all in coach Ramil de Jesus. Even UAAP Season 85 champions Angel Canino and Alleiah Malaluan were honed by Salak in high school.

It certainly bore fruit, with Jovelyn Fernandez picking up the Best Opposite Spiker award. This may not have been the year for FEU, missing out on the Final Four, but it's only the start of greater things to come.

  

The return of RDJ

Even when legendary coach Ramil de Jesus was sidelined due to health conditions, his blueprints for the Lady Spikers were still felt all over, thanks to the efforts of assistant coach Noel Orcullo. At the start of the second round, RDJ ensured that La Salle's first victory of the season against NU was no fluke, showing up and leading the way to another win. 

There's no doubt he's one of the best tacticians in the volleyball scene. After all, it's the Lady Spikers' sheer dominance that brought them to the top of Season 85.

 

La Salle's return to glory

La Salle is back.

After the three-peat glory from Aby Maraño, Ara Galang, Cha Cruz-Behag, and Michele Gumabao from Season 73 to 75, to the three-year reign of Majoy Baron, Kim Kianna Dy, Des Cheng, and Dawn Macandili from Season 78 to 80, it looks like the Lady Spikers are starting a new era. It's been a tough rebuild, finishing third in Season 81, to falling short of the title in Season 84.

But de Jesus and Orcullo have found the keys to the gold with super rookie Canino, Best Setter Marionne Alba, Best Blocker Thea Gagate, and Best Outside Spiker Jolina dela Cruz. 

  

Rookie-MVPs: From staredown to snuggles

This photo. This staredown. This swag. This SLAYED. *chef's kiss* (Props to photographer Joaqui Flores for this epic moment).

This was a fantastic moment to start what was an epic two-game showdown between NU and DLSU for the Season 85 title. And it was only one of many moments captured perfectly.

  

But it wasn't all swag and rivalry. After Game 2, Belen hugged each player in green on the court, ending with this heartwarming and tear-ridden hug with Canino.

It's a moment only two Rookie of the Year-MVPs can have.