By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 82 volleyball action kicks off later this week with the UP Fighting Maroons and UE Red Warriors first to take the court.
Commencing at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Feb. 15, the new season will also adopt a new program format that will see men’s and women’s teams play alternately during game day.
The change in format from the previous setup where the men play in the morning and the women in the afternoon, made by the league with broadcast partner ABS-CBN S+A, was arrived at to give men’s volleyball more exposure, especially coming on the heels of a highly successful outing of the national men’s team in the recent 30th Southeast Asian Games where it won the silver medal.
“With the success of the Men’s Volleyball team in the last SEA Games, it is about time that we put Men’s Volleyball side by side with the Women’s Volleyball,” said league president Emmanuel Fernandez of season host Ateneo de Manila University in a statement.
For the first round, the teams facing off for the men’s side will also be the same pairing in the women’s game.
First to see action are the University of the Philippines and University of the East.
The UP and UE men’s teams collide in the scheduled 9 a.m. with the women’s squads going at it at 10:30 a.m.
The UP and UE men will try to get their respective campaigns going on a winning note coming off a rough Season 81 where they were the two bottom teams at the end of the elimination round and failed to advance to the next phase.
Their women’s counterparts, too, also have the same mindset with the end view of finally making it back to the Final Four.
The Fighting Maroons, dropping the “Lady” in their moniker beginning this season, finished last year at fifth with a 6-8 record, the third straight year they failed to make it to the semifinals of the UAAP.
Veterans Isa Molde, Tots Carlos and Justine Dorog have decided to play in their final year of eligibility, something the Godfrey Okumu-coached team looks to ride on as it makes its push.
The Lady Warriors, meanwhile, look to make better on their seventh place finish in Season 81, led by veteran holdovers Mean Mendrez and Seth Rodriguez and under the lead of second-year coach Karl Dimaculangan.
Also playing on opening day are the University of Santo Tomas and Far Eastern University.
Their men’s play joust happens at 2 p.m. and the women’s at 3:30 p.m.
Also playing on opening weekend, Sunday, Feb. 16, are Adamson University and National University — 9 a.m. men’s and 10:30 a.m. women’s — and rivals Ateneo and De La Salle University in the afternoon session.
Defending UAAP volleyball champions are NU for the men’s side and Ateneo in the women’s.
All UAAP games will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183, iWant and via livestream.