Casiey Dongallo, the prized recruit of the University of the East (UE), has established herself as an instrumental part of the Lady Warriors roster.
UE has been turning things around from the performances of their newcomers with Dongallo, team captain Kizzie Madriaga and Jelai Gajero spearheading the Lady Warriors’ campaign.
The three were recruited from the California Academy after a championship run at the Shakey’s Girls Volleyball Invitational in June and have been leading the Lady Warriors in their preparations for the UAAP, with Dongallo’s transition from high school to college volleyball going hitch-free.
“I did not find it difficult to adjust to UE’s program since it’s still the same when I was in high school,” Dongallo told the Inquirer on the sidelines of Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Preseason Championship press conference on Thursday.
The new challenge for Dongallo, who is now the Lady Warriors’ go-to spiker, is elevating her game to be at par with taller and more powerful opponents not only in her offense but in blocking as well.
“I can bring the power I have from high school but what I need to do is play smarter. I think I don’t need to keep up with their (opponents’) strength. What I need to do is one up my opponents to be able to score because they’re really tall,” Dongallo said.
“Even if I make my attacks powerful, I won’t get past them if I don’t use my head.”
UE finished dead last with a 1-13 slate in the previous UAAP season, a woeful record shared by the University of the Philippines, which begged off from the preseason championship due to lack of preparation.
Signs of life
The Lady Warriors, however, have shown signs of life with a five-game winning streak and a semifinal berth in the ongoing V-League Collegiate Challenge but not without losing Dongallo’s offensive partner Gajero to a serious knee injury.
Gajero has been a motivation for Dongallo to continue delivering mammoth numbers that have been helping improve UE’s image.
“I know that if that (injury) didn’t happen to her, what she would want to happen is for us to win [or end up] either in the top four or more than that … I would do everything for her and also for the UE community … We joined UE … to help them to improve from where they were before,” Dongallo said.
UE’s 14-man lineup in the V-League and going into the SSL will also be their UAAP squad but without former Sto. Tomas opposite spiker Christine Ecalla and former Far Eastern middle blocker Keshia Famulagan, who both have to serve residency after transferring.
The Lady Warriors have also secured the services of Yesha Rojo from Enderun, but even with the additional firepower, Dongallo is keeping her expectations in check.
“We will do our very best in [this tournament] but we cannot promise that we will play in the championship,” Dongallo said.
“This is the best of the best from both the UAAP and NCAA so [we expect that] everyone will give it their all to reach the top.”
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