By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

AFTER being delayed for two weeks, the start of the volleyball tournament of Season 82 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines is finally pushing through today.

Set at the Mall of Asia Arena, UAAP volleyball opening day will feature the Far Eastern University and University of the East in a scheduled double-header.

Men’s play starts at 2 p.m. to be followed by the women at 3:30 p.m.

The Lady Tamaraws, losing semifinalists last year, are out to get their campaign to a good start.

They lost some key pieces from last season due to graduation but are still confident of fashioning out a spirited run and competing hard.

Lycha Ebon, who had an impressive rookie season early last year before going down with a year-ending knee injury, is back for the Morayta-based spikers.

She is joining holdovers like Nette Villareal, Gel Cayuna, Cza Carandang, Van Agudo and Buding Duremdes.

“This year we’re expecting an exciting season. For FEU, we’re ready for our charge and see where it will lead us,” said FEU women’s coach George Pascua in the lead-up.

FEU pushed reigning champions Ateneo Lady Eagles to the limit in the Final Four last season, nearly overhauling a twice-to-win disadvantage.

The UE Lady Warriors, meanwhile, will be led by seniors Mean Mendrez and Seth Rodriguez as well as Zilfa Olarve, Yeye Gabarda and Jasckin Babol, backstopped by young players Mia Manabat and Jel Quizon.

UE finished seventh in the competition last year with a 3-11 record, something coach Karl Dimaculangan said they are aiming to improve on, with a Final Four appearance an immediate goal as well.

On the men’s side, FEU, which lost to reigning champion National University last year, is determined to make another go at it while UE, like its women’s team, is out to perform better this time around after a seventh-place finish last season.

Both the Tamaraws and Red Warriors expressed their appreciation for the UAAP’s decision to give the men’s play more exposure this season so as to show what they can do and further elevate the sport of volleyball.

The UAAP volleyball tournament was supposed to start on Feb. 15 but was deferred over concerns over the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).