Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ateneo Men's Volleyball Match 6 Finding Heart. Fighting Heart.

Ateneo vs. National University
25-22, 25-23, 23-25, 25-19
by rick olivares

Match 5
December 13, 2007
Blue Eagle Gym

At the end of their hotly contested four-set loss to FEU, Ateneo coach Ronald Dulay placed his hand on the chest of several players. “Nararamdaman niyo ba yung tibok ng puso niyo,” he asked. “Meron di ba? Malakas kasi lumaban kayo at pinahirapan niyo sila.” Ateneo has not won a single set against FEU in years. But last Thursday, December 13, they surprised an athletic and fast-playing FEU team through a series of relentless attacks and punishing defense at the net. They took the first set, but lost the next two by a whisker before eventually falling apart in the game clincher. Were it not for the ten-plus service errors it might have been a different story.

The last few losses found the team at the receiving end of another litany of do’s and don’ts from the coaching staff. But after the FEU match, anyone would have sworn the Ateneo men’s volleyball team pulled off a win. Despite being 0-4, the team was noticeably getting better. “We’re building momentum for the second round and we hope to get some wins in the next couple of games,” said a visibly elated Timmy Sto. Tomas after the game. No doubt, their confidence was soaring.

And true enough, the Ateneo Men’s Volleyball Team won a pair of close sets before closing out the National University Bulldogs in the fourth when Macky Limgenco put on a block party and Mike De Joya and AJ Pareja combined for a smashing victory.

In the days before the NU match, the team heavily practiced their defense at the net and their receiving. “We wanted to let our defense do the talking,” said AJ Pareja who was clearly enjoying this long-coming win.

In the fourth set, NU tied the match at 12-all and with every point, the Bulldogs were starting to think that a comeback was a possibility. But with De Joya serving, Sto. Tomas, Pareja, and Limgenco scored four straight points off blocks. Senior Mark Salvador ensured the momentum would keep on going for the home team with a great dig that his teammates converted for a point. By the time NU stopped the run, Ateneo had nearly broken the game wide open with a 19-12 lead.

With the team three points away from the win, Dulay dispatched Paolo Pareja to come in for Juan Carlo Dulu. And most fittingly, the senior, who has endured long losing seasons helped put the win in the bag with superb receptions from NU’s jumpserves. When Mike De Joya finished off the Bulldogs, it was a joyous team that took to the floor in celebration.

Moments after the game, the coaching staff and University Athletics Officials came over to congratulate the team and give encouragement. The team might not strike fear in the hearts of their opponents. They might not have the most heavily recruited players in amateur volleyball. But if the have the heart, as they shown they do posses, it will more than compensate for any other shortcoming, real or perceived.

And now that they know they have it, it’s all about bringing more consistently.

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