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, February 5, 2016

Five points to take away from the DLSU Lady Spikers’ season debut

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Five points to take away from the DLSU Lady Spikers’ season debut
by rick olivares

What does it take for a team to win a championship? Does it require championship experience?

No, it doesn’t but it sure does help to have been-there-done-that but not.

It takes a mixture of things — talent with a balance of grizzled veterans and talented rookies, good coaching, poise, hunger, and players with something to prove. And the De La Salle Lady Spikers have all that. Including the championship experience.

And that was all on display in their season opening win against Far Eastern University where they won in straight sets (29-27, 25-23, 25-20).

While first games do not a season make, they do reveal certain things and let’s count the ways.

Ara Galang is back!
There was so much speculation about her. After all those injuries, how good would she be? Can she even play? Although she didn’t lead her team in scoring as she scored 10 points, she was like a jumping jack and spiking like the Ara Galang of old. 

Mika Reyes top scored for her side with 13. Carol Cerveza, given a chance to show what she could do last year, showed more composure and decisiveness en route to 10 points of her own.

But Galang! In addition to the cheers lauded her way with every serve and spike, she was active on offense and defense. No tentativeness. No breaking in and monitoring her minutes. She was solid. And that should ease the mind of every Lady Spikers fan.

May Luna is their next star. 
Filled in for Cyd Demecillo who was unavailable. And what a sensational debut for this blue-chip recruit. Showed smarts in hitting the ball. Hindi basta palo; she knows how and where to place the ball. And what form! 

That is a perfect blend of power and guile.

She came in the second set, was a little nervy but you have to forgive her because she is a rookie. However when she was re-sent into the fray by head coach Ramil De Jesus… she was a powerhouse!

She gives La Salle more weapons to bear and that puts the league on notice.

Kim Fajardo is one of the craftiest volleyball players around.
Her 35 excellent sets are nothing new. You sort of expect those numbers from her. When she botched a spike, it was wondered that she isn’t used to it. 

I beg to disagree. She plays beach volleyball and you not only set but learn to hit. Simply put, she mis-hit the ball.

Of all the teams that went through three-set games and wins (only Adamson and UST played more sets with five), Fajardo has 35 excellent sets and four points. In contrast to Adamson’s setter Fen Emnas (and no disrespect to her) who finished with 39 excellent sets and six points, that was because they went into five sets. Now imagine how much more Kim would have racked up with more sets. 

Great vision with her drop balls. Great defense. She makes this team go.

Three rallies to win three sets is a great way to start the season.
If you look at the scores for the three sets, you can infer that La Salle was ascending while FEU was faltering. FEU has talent; oh, boy, they do. They just need to harness it properly. You know they will get better. 

Yes, La Salle was tested and they battled back from huge leads. And as they set wore on they settled down and executed.

I’d say that is the operational word for the entire game for La Salle — they executed. That has been a hallmark of their game, perfect execution. 

So it was that endgame poise and execution (especially when you compare it to FEU’s play) that paid dividends for them.

They have a great mix of veterans and blue-chip rookies.
I am a firm believer that you must play your rookies in the opening game even if only just a few minutes. Of La Salle’ four first-timers — libero Carmel Saga, middle hitter Norielle Ipac, Luna, and outside hitter Ernestine Tiamzon, it was only Ipac who wasn’t able to receive any playing time. But that will change.

This is a very good and frightening volleyball team with a perfect mix of battle scarred veterans with championship experience and talented new rookies.

They’ve got a bunch of fifth year players in Carol Cerveza, Cyd Demecillo, Mika Esperanza, Kim Fajardo, Ara Galang, and Mika Reyes to lead the way. And there are the underclassmen with plenty of playing years ahead — libero Dan Macandili, middle hitter Mary Joy Baron, and outside hitter Christine Soyud. And there are the rookies. 

You have to appreciate the way they bring up this team so there is continuity. And when the final year players are done, there are others with the requisite experience to pick up the baton.

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