UST pins hope on young holdovers, rookies

League and team officials gather for a photo opportunity during the press conference. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

League and team officials gather for a photo opportunity during the press conference. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

University of Santo Tomas (UST) is hoping that its rising stars and holdovers will absorb the impact of the loss of its former standouts.

“Since we lost a lot of important players, our main goal is to see our remaining players stand out, especially those who have played in the UAAP last time,” UST assistant coach Lerma Giron said on the sidelines of Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Preseason Championship press conference on Thursday.

The Golden Tigresses lost former team captain Eya Laure and offensive stalwarts Imee Hernandez and Milena Allesandrini after the veterans exhausted their playing years in the UAAP. Laure and Hernandez have since moved to the Premier Volleyball League.

But the future shines bright for the Golden Tigresses with its holdovers—Bernadett Pepito, Regina Jurado, Xyza Gula and Ypril Tapia—ushering in a new era for UST along with a surprising rookie corps.

“The good thing is that we have rookies who stand out so [it’s important that they get] the maturity and that their decision making becomes stable through this (SSL), hopefully their play matures so when the UAAP comes there will be no problems anymore,” Giron said.

The Tigresses’ bronze-medal finish in the recently concluded Invitational Conference helped them assess how to navigate forward with incoming rookie Angeline Poyos delivering a solid performance.

“We didn’t expect that she (Poyos) will stand out and we hope that she will continue to improve and that this becomes an avenue—even though she doesn’t play like a rookie—to increase her level of play,” Giron added.

Having a complete 19-man lineup in the preseason tournament and the clear goal of performing well in the UAAP, Giron revealed that their SSL roster will be their UAAP squad as the Tigresses are working on their conditioning and soon will be incorporating court drills in their training.

“We have high hopes (for the players). We need to show [our] trust to them so that they will be motivated to execute how we want them to play,” Giron said.

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