Dongallo looks forward to stronger UE next season

UE Lady Warriors’ Casiey Dongallo. –MARLO CUETO/

Casiey Dongallo had always talked about bringing change to the University of the East (UE) and with her rookie stint with the Lady Warriors at the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament done, she wants to continue what they had started.

“I am happy with how we ended the season,” Dongallo said shortly after leading UE’s season-ending match against University of the Philippines (UP). “I had dreamt of playing in the UAAP and now, I am here. My season as a rookie is over.”

The Lady Warriors avenged their first-round loss to the Fighting Maroons with a 23-25, 25-17, 27-25, 25-22 victory that ended a five-game losing skid in the second round on Saturday behind Dongallo’s 28 points crafted through 25 attacks, two blocks and an ace.

Dongallo, rookie captain Kizzie Madriaga, injured hitter Jelai Gajero, Claire Castillo and Grace Fernandez took their act to UE after a successful stay with California Academy. And it was not an easy decision for the five standouts.

UE had endured being the league perennial doormats and with arrival of the recruits, there was a lot of expectation for the Lady Warriors.

“I had said before that going to UE was a challenge because looking at the standing of schools before coming to a university, UE was at seventh or eighth,” Dongallo said as she broke the rookie scoring record after reaching 291 points to overtake University of Santo Tomas rookie Angge Poyos’ 268 mark as of press time.

The Golden Tigresses will cap off the preliminary round with its matchup against La Salle in the nightcap that will decide who earns the last twice-to-beat advantage available at No. 2 spot. Top seeded and idling National University have already secured the protection themselves and will only need to win once against No. 4 Far Eastern University.

“We had a goal that we were not able to accomplish but we are still here,” Dongallo said.

“It was a challenge for me to go to a school with that standing so we are happy to change that and looking forward to our improvements,” she added after helping her crew finish with a 3-11 (win-loss) card, tied with Adamson, at No. 6 spot—it’s best finish since 2019.

‘Set a tone’

But Dongallo is not satisfied with what she and the Lady Warriors have accomplished and they would be looking to be better in the next seasons.

Gajero, who also showed her offensive arsenal back in her high school days and preseason stints before suffering a knee injury, is expected to rejoin UE next season along with some new recruits. Suspended coach Jerry Yee is returning as well.

“We set a tone this season for next season and we’re excited for Jelai’s comeback,” Dongallo said. “Whatever happened this season, we will change that next season and we will do more. We’re looking forward to a different standing.”

“Despite the disappointing losses, we still did something good and there is a big accomplishment. So we’re gonna take this as a springboard to get us into the preseason that’s coming up and UAAP Season 87,” interim head coach Obet Vital said.

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“We look forward to continuing the effort and work toward an even better success,” he added.

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