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California Academy volleyball standouts commit to UE

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University of the East has received the much-awaited commitments from five of the top high school volleyball prospects in the game today.

Casiey Dongallo, Jelaica Gajero, Kizzie Madriaga, and Grace Fernandez from California Academy, along with Claire Castillo of Maryhill College, will join the Lady Warriors.

All five student-athletes will be eligible to play starting UAAP Season 86.

The quintet made their commitments to Strong Group Athletics founder Frank Lao and head coach Jerry Yee on Tuesday at Gloria Maris Restaurant Greenhills in San Juan.

Casiey Dongallo, Jelaica Gajero, Kizzie Madriaga, Grace Fernandez, and Claire Castillo (foreground) will be playing for the University of the East starting in Season 86 of the UAAP.

Lady Warriors team manager Jared Lao expressed, “Having the Cali Babies commit to our team is such a crucial part of our rebuilding process. We all know what they can bring to the table, and as a team, we are very excited to have them be part of our journey.”

UE has also tapped California Academy head coach Obet Vital to be one of the assistants of Yee.

Over the past three years, California Academy has made a name for itself as one of the country’s top high school volleyball programs.

Under the guidance of Jerry Yee and later on, Vital, the Cal Babies were able to hold their own against Premier Volleyball League teams in the 2021 PNVF Champions League for Women, finishing in fifth place.

It earned Dongallo and Gajero invites to join the pool of the Philippine Women’s National Volleyball Team.

California Academy then dominated the 2023 PNVF Under-18 Girls’ Tournament and the Shakey’s Girls Invitational Volleyball League.

During the PNVF U18 tournament, Madriaga was named the Best Setter, while Dongallo was the MVP of the Shakey’s tournament. Gajero was recognized as the Best Outside Spiker, Fernandez as the Best Libero, and Madriaga remained as the Best Setter.

Meanwhile, Castillo powered Maryhill to a fourth-place finish in the PNVF tourney.

UE is coming off a last-place finish in UAAP Season 85, ending with a 1-13 record.


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