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.

Friday, March 28, 2014

My thoughts on the V-League match between Adamson & St. Louis and a question about the Lady Falcons

My thoughts on the Adamson vs. St. Louis V-League match last Thursday
25-10, 25-10, 25-20
by rick olivares

Heading into this match, I was thinking St. Louis is in trouble. They lost their first match of the first conference of the 11th season of the Shakey’s V-League to Southwestern University in five sets. And the SWU Lady Cobras are really far from impressive. In fact, they lost in three sets to Arellano University in the opener of the Thursday double header. So what more St. Louis against Adamson?

SWU isn’t a power hitting team. Adamson is.

This Lady Falcons team has talent. They aren’t particularly tall and they’ve got some youngsters on a rebuilding team but they’ve got hops. Plus, they had Pau Soriano back although as a guest player.

However, when I see this Adamson team, I think, ‘Man, Sheila Pineda is A VOLLEYBALL PLAYER.” How many can you say are complete players (Alyssa Valdez is another one)? She can serve, hit, block, dig, and even play libero (hello, Cagayan Valley). In a game where they had control she was chill. She was talking to her teammates providing leadership on the court and during timeouts. In several instances, she was demonstrating proper hitting form or even reading plays to her younger teammates.

After losing in four sets to Ateneo in the league opener, the Lady Falcons took care of business in the first set with a score of 25-10. That was enough to take the fight out of the Lady Navigators (the current Benguet Educational Athletic League champions) that displayed all sorts of problems.

They communication on the floor left much to be desired. Players were running into one another. Players weren’t talking on who would receive the ball. That of course, led to poor floor defense. For long stretches, Krissian Tsuchiya was in the back row as the Lady Navigators couldn’t stop Adamson from holding serve. Tsuchiya is one of their better blockers and spikers and they needed to get her up front.

Aside from Tsuchiya, the team’s former captain and is already working and is far from her playing form, St. Louis has some intriguing players like middle blocker Coleen Rossi, who can be a bigger factor if she works on her condition and adds more power to her spikes or even running shots, and setter EJ Daniel. Ditto with Roxanne Almonte (who is from the University of the Cordilleras).

After taking the first two sets, Adamson coach Sherwin Meneses took out his big guns (Pineda, Soriano, and May Macatuno) leaving a younger team to get some playing time and more experience. Key here was Mylene Paat has yet to be consistent in holding that middle position the way Pau Soriano did for years. Paat did well especially on her serves. Ditto with Jessica Galanza who like Ateneo’s Ella De Jesus is like tiny dynamite. She sure can explode from the open position.

Post-match: good experience for both squads. St. Louis will learn a lot from playing the Manila teams and I can say the same for Adamson’s bench.

On another note, I had a pre-game discussion with a media colleague who asked me if the Adamson Falcons performed much better under (Mommy) Minerva Dulce Pante as opposed to current head coach Sherwin Meneses (who has been at the helm the past two seasons).

I disagreed.

It’s a different time for volleyball. Mommy Dulce (as she is affectionately known in volleyball circles and was coach for Adamson for 35 years! Imagine that!) caught the start of the surge in popularity of the sport. But over the past several years, what has really changed for the sport is the recruitment.

There was a time when it was UST, FEU, and Adamson ruling the sport. Then La Salle started making noises about winning and which they did. The new programs of NU (particularly at NU) and Ateneo channeled the pipeline of players. Even Arellano University over at the NCAA is making strides in its program. They’ve got a slew of tall players that they normally do not get and word is they’ll have some training overseas. And of course, there’s perennial NCAA power San Sebastian.

So recruitment has changed everything.

How does that relate to Adamson?

I think one has to appreciate what Sherwin Meneses has done post-Mommy Dulce. Meneses brought the Lady Falcons to the Final Four the past two seasons. Sure it isn’t like when Mommy Dulce took them to the Finals in consecutive years. But consider the talent that he has and how he made do without Pau Soriano this year. Good job, I say!

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