MANILA, Philippines — Casiey Dongallo, one of the prized rookies in the league, seeks to help the University of the East rise from the ashes in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament starting this weekend at Mall of Asia Arena.
Dongallo, who won several MVPs and championships in high school, is aware that the expectations are high for the Lady Warriors this season because of the core members of California Academy.
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“We know that UE always ends up in seventh or eighth place. Now that we’re here as their new players with a new system, we’re trying our best to help UE rise from its previous finish,” said Dongallo in Filipino. “But since we’re new, we just want to usher in a new era and help the program improve.”
Dongallo and her fellow rookies will have to embrace bigger leadership roles after her fellow freshman Jelai Gajero suffered an ACL injury in the preseason, while seniors Ja Lana and Jel Quizon turned pro with the Capital1 Solar Spikers in the PVL.
“Being a leader is not new for me because we were the ones leading at California Academy,” Dongallo said. “Here at UE, knowing that some players are veterans, they have been allowing us to lead even though we’re just rookies. They are allowing us to talk about the things that would help our team improve.”
Despite the departure of several veteran players, Yee was pleased with the progress of his young team, bannered by Dongallo and rookie setter Kizzie Madriaga as well as holdovers KC Cepada and Angelica Reyes.
“The goal is not to finish last. We’re trying to achieve to win as many games as we can,” said Yee, who was with Adamson last year but left months after leading the school to a bronze with the Lady Falcons’ core for Farm Fresh.
“I hope we can translate our practices to wins because they’ve been committed and working hard.”
The 18-year-old Dongallo admitted that she’s been feeling the jitters ahead of her first UAAP game but she’s trying her best to turn it into excitement for her to be able to debut in style.
“I’m excited but I also feel nervous because this will be my first UAAP game. I’m turning that pressure into excitement so it won’t affect my game,” Dongallo said.