Impact Rookies of UAAP Season 76

5. Julia Morado (ADMU) – 5’7 setter

Not only did Ateneo get a replacement for Jem Ferrer, they got a tall and talented setter. Ever since her sophomore year in high school, I have always been amazed with the setting of Julia Morado. She always has good connection with the spikers which makes it easier for them to score. Aside from setting, she has very good blocking and serving which can definitely spell a lot of difference for the Ateneo team. If she can adapt well with the low-fast offense of Ateneo, she’ll definitely be an asset.

4. Dawn Macandili (DLSU) – 5’3 libero

This girl can frustrate a lot of opponents. She’s just really everywhere. Although Jen Reyes is gone, she could be the next one. I see a lot of potential in this kid to be a very good libero. Her entry in DLSU is likewise very timely with the exit of very good libero Melissa Gohing. With her around, the reception and floor defense of DLSU will be very good. Let us just hope that like Gohing, she’ll be able to lead her teammates in going for every ball.

3. Ana Gopico (ADMU) – 5’9 middle blocker

She is very bubbly and makes a lot of jokes outside the court, but when she’s playing she is all business as well. Ana Gopico might just be the first natural middle blocker that Ateneo will have since Charo Soriano and Bea Pascual (yes, that long). Ateneo is lucky that they have two good setters in Julia Morado and Gizelle Tan who can give a lot of good sets in the middle. Gopico has a very powerful quick and with her height and high leap, can even tower blockers. Aside from the hitting, she has very good timing in blocking which is probably why she won last year’s MVP and Best Blocker in Palaro.

2. Des Cheng (DLSU) – 5’7 outside hitter/middle blocker

This girl has achieved a lot in high school and you don’t have to wonder why because she is a very good player. Her form reminds me so much of Maruja Banaticla and what separates her from the other spikers is the intimidation she brings when you set up a ball to her (yes, similar to the intimidation when Alyssa Valdez, Aiza Maizo and Jeng Bualee have when they are approaching the ball). Of course, everyone knows that she has solid hits but aside from hitting, she has very good floor defense. She also has a good amount of leadership, which can really turn things around when her team is down. La Salle not only got a skilled player but also a good leader and sort of “intimidator”.

1. Jaja Santiago (NU) – 6’4 outside hitter/middle blocker/opposite

Not everyone has a 6’4 height in volleyball. Not all tall players can also hit hard as her. That’s what separates Jaja Santiago from the other tall players. Not only does she have the height, she also has good hitting. She can hit anywhere as well. In the national team, she plays outside and opposite while in NU, she plays middle. I think playing a lot of positions and getting exposure from international tournaments will be very good for her because it will really develop her to become a complete player. Of course, we don’t have to talk about blocking because it’s already there. She just needs more polishing and more connection with the setters and she’s good to go. Besides, the fact that she is 6’4 is already enough intimidation for the opposing teams.

So there you have it; the rookies who I (emphasis on “I”) think will make a big impact for their teams in the upcoming UAAP volley tourney. Of course, it’d be so much better if someone unexpected will show up and bring the house down!

Again, Some might call this post hype or something but like I said I also see the potential in everyone that’s why I don’t consider anyone hype. These are just observations of what these kids can do back in high school.

Sorry if there are wrong grammars though and thanks for reading! 😀

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