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.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

5 points from the Ateneo Lady Eagles’ win over FEU

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5 points from the Ateneo Lady Eagles’ win over FEU
by rick olivares

The Ateneo Lady Eagles defeated the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws in three sets (25-22 25-19, 25-15) to finish as the last undefeated squad in UAAP Women’s Volleyball, 3-0. The two-time defending champions were given trouble by FEU at certain intervals but when it was winning time, Ateneo found their collective resolve to take the win.

Here’s what we can take away from that match.

They looked shaky at times but the got it done.
The best offense is good defense. You’ve heard that so many times. But more so in volleyball because that also determines how you attack. That was the hallmark of their championship season the previous year. With graduations to key personnel, you can infer that the offense is even better although the defense has taken a hit.

Following the UST match, their second of the season, the Ateneo Lady Eagles were tops in blocking, dead last in digging, and fourth in receiving. 

Looking at the tables prior to the third games of the season, La Salle looked really frightening. Third in blocking, second best in digging, and tops in receiving. And there were the offensive categories where the Lady Spikers looked darn good as well.

Following the results of the Ateneo-FEU and La Salle-NU matches where the Lady Eagles took down FEU in three sets and the Lady Bulldogs upended the Lady Spikers (25-16, 26-24, 14-25, 25-23), the Lady Eagles fell to second (by not much) in blocking to La Salle, climbed to sixth spot in digging, and moved up one notch to third in receiving.

You really have to take it day-to-day and game-to-game. There’s a little more parity to the UAAP and defending champion or first-runner up or not, anyone is capable of beating the other on any given day. For all the supposed imperviousness of La Salle, UP took a set from them, and now NU took them down in four sets. Ateneo has looked shaky in spots — conceding points in bunches before rectifying matters and pulling away for a win.

Against FEU, it was the same plot. 

In the first two sets, the Lady Eagles raced to a sizeable lead after which the Lady Tams roared back through solid blocking and hitting and solid serving (wreaking havoc on the receiving end). But Ateneo regrouped and nailed FEU. In the three-set sweep, FEU looked good heading into the second set, but they blunted their momentum by falling once more into a hole in the second set before tying the match at 10-all. However, the Lady Eagles never allowed the Lady Tams to take the lead.

By the third set, FEU was broken.

Jia Morado rebounded quite well thank you.
Her best setting game of the campaign thus far as she finished with 38 excellent sets. In the first set alone, five of her teammates scored. She picked her spots well in her drop shots and called a great game. Better balance in the scoring with three players in double digits. 

Alyssa Valdez didn’t have to exert herself too much as she finished with 15. Maddie Madayag in this magnificent start of hers put in 11 while the always impressive Jhoanna Maraguinot had 10. 

You get spoiled watching Jia and La Salle’s Kim Fajardo play and hold them to a standard. That they rebound from a poor outing shows their terrific attitude and willingness to get better.

Maddie Madayag is killing it.
Her breakout season is just as impressive as Bea De Leon’s rookie year. Solid game. Unassuming. Plays the game the right way (no angas unlike other middle blockers). And the girl does pack a mean running spike. 

Maddie’s 11th in scoring, fourth in blocking and is tops in serving with eight aces versus three faults. Three times during the match she held for long serves. That means FEU didn’t get to kill the ball. 

The tag team with Bea De Leon — damn. That’s a force right there. 

Jhoanna Maraguinot 
She sat out her first two years because she needed to fix her grades. Watching her on the sidelines as her teammates went to the Finals in Season 75 before winning it all in Season 76, she was quiet. Always quiet. When she finally joined the team, she came on for Mich Morente before she started regularly in the second round. All the waiting, you’d think she’d play with some gigil but no. She’s composed. Love her game face. It’s the same one I saw in the sidelines when she was waiting for her turn. All business.

Hopefully, she gets a few more sets her way because that high-scoring trio with Valdez and Madayag will give opposing teams a fit when it comes to blocking.

It was good to give Jamie Lavitoria playing time.
It looked good and then bad. Jamie Lavitoria was sent in the first set after Gizelle Tan struggled with her receiving. And Chin Basas served up an ace that Lavitoria mis-received. She could have fallen apart after that but not. She played better. Her eight excellent receptions might not be on a Denden Lazaro level but its a good start. She put in quality minutes and wasn’t a late game blow out sub. 

As for Gizelle, shaky in spots but she did come back better. Maybe Coach Tai has to rein her enthusiasm in a bit for in her desire to make it up she runs into teammates when they have a better chance of receiving the ball. But give her props for her determination and not hanging her head in defeat. Fighter she is.

Incidentally, Tan is sixth best in receiving in the league (although teammate Alyssa Valdez is ahead of her in fifth). 

How do I sum up the Ateneo Lady Eagles after three matches? They start out strong, sometimes slow, waver a bit before finishing strong. Work in progress. Kinks here and there but they have found ways to win.

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