Underdogs are schools that have relatively new line-up due to the loss/graduates of some key players while some may have new coaches.
Teams that I consider underdogs are the Adamson Lady Falcons, Ateneo Lady Eagles, University of the East Lady Warriors, University of the Philippines Lady Maroons and University of Santo Tomas Lady Tigresses. These teams are relatively new in terms of group dynamic and adjustments ranging from change of coaches to loss of key players and having additional players.
Adamson team shows promise since the comeback of almost all of their players who plaued the Season 78 and were not able to play in Season 79. I’m talking about Paat, Dacoroon and Emnas who were full of potential but always fell short during their stint in the previous seasons. They struggled and then they cameback at the right time helping Galanza to win games and recently defeating the defending champions in 4 sets. This only shows that the Lady Falcons are stronger and in better shape than their previous years. They are the team that will not be taken lightly.
Ateneo Lady Eagles is a team who lost their setter and their team captain of the previous season, Morado and Morente respectively. Though veteran players Maraguinot, Madayag and De leon are still with the team, they have to adjust because not only did they lost the playmaker but also their defensive specialist, Gequillana, earlier the season because of an ACL Injury. The team has to build a strong connection and regain their team dynamics with the new setter and libero. They may seem to be starting from scratch but remember the time when the Lady Eagles had their first title, they lost the Fab Five, their starters yet they won a championship for two consecutive years. This simply shows that this team has that power to go against all odds and prove themselves to be worthy opponents in this season.
UE Lady Warriors is a new team with a new coach entering midseason. In the past, they were the team that is being played by the bench players from other teams. A “sure win” if not an “easy win” for their opponents but this season they show that they can also be lethal. They even stole a set from almost all teams during the first elimination round and having a five setter match against strong opponents. Veterans, Arado and Adorador, lead their teams to have confidence and to eventually win sets. Although winless at the moment, they pretty showed a great fight and giving the other schools a hard time to get their win.
University of the Philippines, this team has the youngest players. The players have to step-up their game and they did. Despite losing their coach before the season starts, this doesn’t made them weak rather it made them stronger. They keep that as a motivation as they move forward. They may be the least mature team in terms of handling the pressure, the crowd and the situation in the court per se but they won matches and every game must be a learning experience for them. They have the highest potential to outshine other teams when they peak at the right time.
UST Tigresses has also an intact line-up from last year except from the unfortunate loss of Laure due to shoulder injury before the season began. I consider them as underdogs because they were considered as underrated by many. This team has the right people with the right skills that they need it’s just that they have to polish things and when they do they could be lethal. Looking at the form and on how these girls play, it’s no doubt that they wanted that final four spot. The will of these girls are like a fire that can’t be stopped which makes them an opponent that is hard to beat.
This Season 80 all teams have the same goal but only Four teams will be moving towards that championship. This is just the first round of elimination and it’s not done yet but the scoring is so close that you don’t know what more to expect other than this year is an exciting season to watch.