17-25, 23-25, 25-19, 19-25
by rick olivares
January 30, 2008
Blue Eagle Gym
Ateneo De Manila University
The giddiness brought by early wins in the women’s volleyball tournament seems like a long time ago. With several injuries to key players that have prevented them from running at full tilt and a couple of huge meltdowns it has become perilously close in the words of one veteran watcher, “to becoming a jinxed year.”
And with the team falling to fifth place after losing to La Salle in their eleventh match of the season, the days are slipping by real fast with so few games left to spare. Time may be running out on their best bet to compete for a championship. And these are the last days before the team rebuilds after it will be losing more than their three super seniors who came in together in 2004.
So the De La Salle Lady Spikers met their counterparts from Ateneo. The league’s best blocking team versus the league’s most perplexing team. Yes, sadly it is so for you’ll never know which Ateneo team will show up. Will it be the team that shocked powerful UST by taking the first set before faltering? Will it be the team that put the fear of the Almighty in the giant-killing FEU team before succumbing to a heartbreaking fifth set loss? But does anyone remember those games? The season that was dubbed early on as a farewell party for those loveable favorites BST (Bello, Soriano & Taganas) & Company will also be partly remembered for Bea Pascual’s unfortunate injury and the other injuries that have hobbled the team and had an affect on their performance.
But if it isn’t that gritty team of Ateneo Lady Spikers who gives it that old one big fight, will it be the one that didn’t show up twice against Adamson?
The two teams are heading in separate directions. While DLSU coach Ramil De Jesus’ team is gathering momentum, Ronald Dulay’s squad is heading… well, it’s anyone’s guess and it depends on what happens. Unfortunately matters aren’t exactly in their own hands.
Ateneo on the other hand still has to face UP, NU, and FEU. In case you’ve just emerged from a remote Pacific island, none of them – even the game against the Lady Bulldogs – is a sure winner. There’s the saying after all, bilog ang bola. Go ask the Ateneo men’s team. They know it all too well.
They also have to closely monitor the fate of DLSU which will go through the eye of the needle with FEU and UST waiting in the wings.
Even if Ateneo makes it to the final four, the established goal all season long, why stop there? The team has to play better lest it become a sparring partner for the powerhouse teams.
Against La Salle, the defense wasn’t that good. The receiving was terrible (it added to the 23 points won by DLSU on errors). For a while there the only points were coming from two players: Charo Soriano and Crystal Ballentyne. Cara Acevedo and Patty Taganas later picked up with their points to help the team battle back, but the game was a complete reversal of their first round match against La Salle.
After the game, we waited for a few of the players to come out of the dugout (we weren’t going in lest we be finagled as peeping tom wannabes) to offer some encouragement. Kaya pa. Laban lang. They nodded and managed painful smiles (understandably so since they were coming off another loss).
But you wonder if they believe in it.
NU’s on deck this weekend and it’s now or never.