Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

Angel Canino (right)will be a former ward
Tina Salak hopes to

Angel Canino (right) will be a former ward Tina Salak hopes to stop. —UAAP PHOTO

Tina Salak and her Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws will be the latest to take a shot at La Salle, and the legendary former UAAP star setter has just one thing in mind as they try to stop the Lady Spikers’ unbeaten Season 85 women’s volleyball championship start.

“Definitely, that team has weaknesses,” Salak said in Filipino on the eve of their 12 noon match at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City. “And those are what we will be looking for.”

La Salle is undefeated in four games, thanks in large part to rookie Angel Canino, Salak’s former ward at La Salle-Zobel where they won a high school title in 2018 when Salak started her promising coaching career. Another ex-Salak player is libero Justine Jazareno, who is also playing well.

“She has definitely improved a lot,” Salak said of the 19-year-old Canino, the top spiker and second leading scorer in the young tournament. “She has really worked to get where she is at now.”

FEU will be coming off an ego-boosting 25-12, 15-25, 19-25, 25-15, 18-16 victory over heavyweight Ateneo as it tries to avert La Salle from creeping closer to duplicating its finest start since Season 77 when the Lady Spikers opened up with a six-game winning streak.

With La Salle off to a blistering start, interim coach Noel Orcullo has kept himself busy reminding his tall and young charges to guard against complacency.

“I keep reminding them that this is a long tournament,” Orcullo said in Filipino. “We cannot be comfortable at the top, we need to continue to work hard and improve every game.

“We need to improve ourselves individually so that our team as a whole can keep improving,” Orcullo, standing in for the ailing Ramil de Jesus, continued. “In doing that, we can assure ourselves that we would have refined our game more going into the second round [of eliminations].”

UST bounce back?

University of Santo Tomas (UST) still licking the wounds of a straight sets loss to Adamson after playing without Melina Alessandrini, battles University of the Philippines in the 2 p.m. contest.

The Tigresses inflicted the first loss on defending champion National University last week and are making sure that Alessandrini, already coming off two ACL surgeries, will be in prime health deeper in the tournament.

The Filipino-Italian attacker suffered an ankle sprain against the Lady Bulldogs as Santo Tomas will again look to Eya Laure to shoulder most of the offensive load.

“Our motivation going into the game is that we need to show La Salle that we can beat them,” Salak said. “But this is like a David versus Goliath match—literally—because of how tall they all are.”

“We need to stop all of them, not just Angel,” she went on. “They also have their little weapons.”

Jov Fernandez, the Lady Tamaraws’ leading scorer, and Chenie Tagaod will be Salak’s main guns.

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By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.