THE UST Golden Tigresses will rally under a new captaincy in their first-ever Philippine Super Liga (PSL) Grand Prix Conference stint on October.
Newly-appointed team captain Shannen Palec replaced energizer bunny Cherry Rondina, while libero Rica Jane Rivera will serve as co-captain in the team’s debut in the league.
Head coach Emilio “Kung Fu” Reyes Jr. said the management decided to join PSL instead because it would expose the team to tougher competition.
“Ang nag-break doon sa decision ay ‘yung experience na. Kasi na-experience na namin ‘yung [Premier Volleyball League] for so many years. Sa PSL [naman], medyo ibang ambiance, ibang pakiramdam,” Reyes told the Varsitarian.
UST bagged the championship crown in the first Shakey’s V-League conference, the founding name of PVL, in 2004.
The squad collected six gold medals, four silvers and a bronze for the past 13 seasons before the league was renamed to PVL.
PSL is a semi-professional corporate club volleyball league founded in 2013 to give former collegiate players an avenue to continue their volleyball careers.
But the Tigresses will not play with their two main hitters.
Rondina will suit up for her franchise team Petron Blaze Spikers while EJ Laure will play for the Foton Tornadoes.
“[Magandang] mabigyan ng exposure ‘yung mga tao natin. Nasa isang liga na kami at ‘di na kami magtatawid-tawid. ‘Pag dating sa laro, both ways naman ‘yung gain ng experience namin,” Reyes said.
With the volleyball season still months away, Reyes admitted that the team was still “on the process” after four veterans left the team last season.
UST would have to rely on its core this UAAP Season 80 sans setter Alex Cabanos, opposite spiker Pamela Lastimosa and middle blockers Chloe Cortez and Ria Meneses.
“Kung nag-rebuilding kami noong pangalawang taon [ko], itong taon naman on the process pa rin. Sa sistema na gusto [kong] mangyari, na-adapt [naman] last year pero naubos na ‘yung mga players natin,” Reyes said.
Queenie Salmon, a 6’0” middle blocker from Davao, will be the lone addition to the Tigresses’ defense and firepower.
“Pipilitin naming makakuha ng twice-to-beat advantage bago mag-semis. ‘Yun muna ang gusto kong mangyari. Target lang muna, ‘yun muna ang motivation namin,” Reyes added.
Last season UST advanced to the Final Four for the first time since 2012 and ended its campaign with a bronze finish.