Hindi kami nage-expect ng sobrang mataas kasi sa ngayon bago po ang lahat –
National University setter Jasmine Nabor
National University is considered as one of the top contenders in the inaugural Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference if not the favorite to win it all.
The Lady Bulldogs, for one, are the back-to-back champions in the same conference of the defunct V-League. NU is also parading four players that are fresh from a title conquest for BaliPure a few weeks back in the Open Conference.
Aiko Urdas is back in her dangerous form, Risa Sato is effective at the net, Jorelle Singh’s veteran presence provides stability and setter Jasmine Nabor’s playmaking could now be considered to be at par with some of the big names.
However, NU could be facing an uphill climb this time.
The Lady Bulldogs will see action with a very short rotation – a 10-player lineup to be exact.
But its biggest void will be the absence of 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago.
NU submitted only 10 names for its official roster and the national team standout was not included in the list.
With this development including the coaching staff overhaul after Babes Castillo replaced Roger Gorayeb as head coach of the Lady Bulldogs following the second straight time NU failed to advance in the Final Four in the UAAP, the squad is expected to have a bumpy campaign.
“Hindi kami nage-expect ng sobrang mataas kasi sa ngayon bago po ang lahat,” said Nabor. “Bago ang team, bago ang coach tapos bihira pa kami magsama sa training ngayon kasi gawa nga po ng sa PVL (Reinforced and Open conferences).”
“Ang ini-expect po namin ay talagang lahat ng teams gusto kaming talunin dahil nga ‘di ba po last two years kami ang champion sa Collegiate tournament ng V-League,” added Nabor.
NU is bracketed in Group A, considered as the ‘group of death’ as the Lady Bulldogs are bunched with UAAP powerhouse teams Ateneo de Manila University and Far Eastern University and NCAA squads San Sebastian College-Recoletos, Lyceum of the Philippines University and Jose Rizal University. Only the top two teams after the single-round robin elimination round will advance in the best-of-three crossover semifinals.
“Ang gusto namin ay mag-perform ng maayos pero mina-manage namin ang expectations naming,” according to Nabor. “Basta ang focus po namin ay may matutunan dito kasi ito ang preparation namin para sa UAAP.”
“Sa liga po na ito kasi namin mabi-base kung kaya na po naming makapasok sa Final Four sa UAAP o maglaro ng Finals,” Nabor added. “Parang dito namin makikita kung ano ang kailangan naming pagtrabahuhan at makikita namin ang mga kalaban sa UAAP kung paano sila maglaro.”
Rounding up the short-handed NU lineup are Roma Joy Doromal, Larnie Aberin, Roselyn Doria, Gayle Valdez, Audrey Paran and Joni Chavez.
The Lady Bulldogs will face LPU in their tournament debut at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Monday.
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