MAKATI CITY – Defending champion Centro Escolar University Lady Scorpions began their quest for a volleyball treble on a high note by smashing the Saint Clare College of Caloocan Lady Saints in straight sets, 25-21, 25-21 and 25-15 at the start of action of the 14th National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (NAASCU) Volleyball Tournament at the Makati Coliseum Tuesday afternoon (January 20). In the other completed contest, last year’s runner-up Rizal Technological University Lady Thunder gave a rude welcome to the debuting Philippine Christian University Lady Dolphins also in straight sets, 25-4, 25-14 and 25-7.
Despite losing back-to-back Most Valuable Player Giza Yumang and team captain Lyn Nacario, to graduation, Coach Bobby Celso hopes that his returnees and rookies will step up to fill the void. Key returnees are last year’s Best Attacker Nina Aninang and Best Setter Anne Colleen Marte.
The Lady Thunder of Coach Edgar Barroga had an easier time disposing of the nine-player PCU side. While CEU is intact, RTU is parading a lot of rookies with last year’s Best Receiver Jonnah Gameng as the notable holdover.
This season’s volleyball wars will feature six teams in both the women’s and men’s divisions. Aside from the teams that played on opening day, all active member schools are joining including Our Lady of Fatima University and New Era University but City University of Pasay and Diliman College have declined to put up teams this year.
The teams will play a single round robin amongst themselves with the top four teams advancing to the crossover semifinals. The rest of the elimination round games will be played at the RTU and PCU campuses with the games returning to the Makati Coliseum for the semifinals and finals.
A simple opening rite preceded the games with all teams parading and NAASCU Chairman Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem delivering the keynote speech. New Era’s Katrina Victoria was chosen as Miss NAASCU.
The third match of opening day between defending men’s champion Rizal Technological University and runner-up New Era University Hunters was rescheduled upon mutual agreement of both teams through their coaches and team captains. This year’s commissioner is Butch Montinola, who returns for another tour of duty.
Meanwhile, Dr. Adalem clarified that NAASCU is adopting a wait and see policy regarding the current leadership crisis within the Philippine Volleyball Federation (PVF). “We will support whatever is the final outcome of negotiations between all parties involved,” said Dr. Adalem.