MANILA - “Push them to the limit.”
The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tigresses coaching staff is eyeing to develop maturity and toughness within the collegiate squad as they suit up for the 2017 PSL Grand Prix Conference sans their top hitters and imports.
The Tigresses are the only collegiate team in the league and will parade a no-import team and without veterans Cherry Ann Rondina and Ria Meneses, who will both play for Petron, and EJ Laure, who will be playing for Foton.
“Patibayin 'yung loob, regardless kung malalakas 'yung kalaban, ang importante is alamin nila kung ano 'yung kaya nila,” said coach Kungfu Reyes, who will be standing on the side of COCOLIFE Asset Managers. “’Yun ang importante doon, paano nila ilalabas kung ano ang puwedeng ilabas.”
Former UST Tigers libero Paul Jan Doloiras will be calling the shots for UST in PSL.
While playing in the league without reinforcements will be a disadvantage for the crew, Doloiras stressed that the experience the Tigresses will get against top caliber teams in PSL is what they are looking for.
“Ang mga naiwan lang na players, 'yun lang ang gagamitin namin. So tingnan natin kung sino 'yung mag-step up dun. Basta importante sa amin ‘yung experience na makuha namin dito para madala namin sa upcoming games,” said Doloiras.
Reyes noted how grand the upcoming PSL competition is given the pool of local talents with the addition of experienced foreign players, some of whom have appeared in the World Grand Prix and the Olympics.
Doloiras added that match-ups against world-class volleybelles would be a great advantage for the squad once they face teams in other leagues with local players.
“Kapag naka-encounter na sila ng malalakas na bola galing sa mga imports, so 'pag local to local na ‘yung kalaban namin, mas aangat 'yung team namin pagdating sa mga ibang games,” said Doloiras.
Without the team's top gunners, UST will be counting on captain Shannen Palec, only setter Alina Bicar, opposite hitter Dimdim Pacres and libero Rica Rivera.
For Reyes, the PSL would be the right opportunity for Carla Sandoval and company to bloom from “caterpillar” to “butterfly” in the volleyball scene.
Reyes is unfazed despite the UST lineup, believing that the team will not surrender easily without putting up a fight.
“Pare-parehas dalawa ang braso, dalawang kamay, dalawang mata, dalawang paa. Even lang. Lalamang man sila (opponents) sa amin sa speed, experience, lalamang sa height. Pero skills-wise, laban kami,” Reyes told reporters.
Doloiras, on the other hand, has no expectations for the España-based team but said there may be surprises during the league.