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Five talking points from the Ateneo Lady Eagles’ win over UST
by rick olivares
It wasn’t their best game but they were good enough. The Ateneo Lady Eagles defeated their University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses counterparts in four sets (25-22, 25-20, 21-25, 25-15) to go to 2-0 while dropping the latter to its second straight defeat.
Here are some points to glean from that match.
The drop off after an intense match.
Before the game began, I asked a few people — the program head and the coaches - from Ateneo what they had in store for UST. The answer was more or less, “We’re ready; we prepared for it. The rest is up to them.”
While the Ateneo Lady Eagles got off to an okay start, they weren’t sharp at all. They got by because of their talent and their defense. The raced to an early lead they didn’t relinquish.
However, the first three sets can be described as — in terms of Ateneo’s play — lethargic as well as lacking focus and intensity.
Was it a drop in intensity after their season opener against NU? Last season, they also played NU although to start the second round that ended in a three-set win for Ateneo. In their next match, they played a five-setter against Adamson. From there on they pounded the opposition before playing La Salle for the last game of the second round.
The season of course is young and the Lady Eagles still have yet to reach their peak form. When they were in Thailand recently, their form was high then it went down following the break in between the UAAP tournament. Now they have to pick up the pace and level again. No excuses though. Credit has to be given to UST for hanging in there. Like their opener against Adamson, they fell into a 0-2 hole then forced a fifth set. The difference is this — after confronted by the challenge of conceding the third set, the Lady Eagles found their focus and form in the fourth set to put away the Growling Tigresses.
They contained Cherry Rondina for two of four sets.
That was part of the game plan for Ateneo. And they did well by making sure that Rondina’s impact was generally contained. UST’s main weapon scattered her points and only had a great influence in the third set that the Golden Tigresses took.
Breaking it down, that’s six points in the first set; three in the second. Then Rondina broke out for nine in the third set. In the fourth set, she was contained once more as she only had three points.
Four times she was blocked that led to block points for Ateneo.
On defense, Ateneo’s servers targeted her to the point that UST coach Kungfu Reyes had to hide her and give her added protection. But you have to also credit Ateneo’s servers. Even if Rondina was in the side, they still sent serves her way sideout or not.
When Ateneo’s game went south, Rondina picked her team up. Without a doubt, this is her team now.
Jia Morado needs to play well.
I was shocked to see a lot of the early sets all go Alyssa Valdez’ way. While there is nothing wrong with utilizing college volleyball’s most devastating weapon, what you’d like to is get a lot of people involved in the offense.
I thought that Ateneo’s game went south when Morado wasn’t her usual self. In fact, during one time out, Coach Anusorn Bundit pointed out that she needed to not only diversify her attack but to make better sets.
She finished with 18 excellent sets. That’s a low for her.
When she diversified her setting in the fourth set, her teammates began to hammer UST.
The rapid improvement of Maddie Madayag.
Okay, she finished with seven points. But her improvement — her serves, running attack, and defense — is remarkable. And she ended the match with an ace. Maybe it is time for her to take an even bigger role in the offense.
The need to balance the scoring.
I will let someone corroborate my thoughts.
After the match, I was with Ruel Valdez, Alyssa’s father. And this is what he pointed out.
“Twenty-three points for Alyssa? Twelve for Marguinot?” Dapat sila Madayag, Ahomiro, at De Leon may 10 points or more. Si Alyssa dapat less than 20 points. Walang balance sa scoring ng Ateneo.”
If they can keep Valdez fresh then that will help the Lady Eagles in their campaign.
If you look at the scoring for both teams, they are pretty much even — two double digit scorers. It is in the errors that gave a lot of points away — 26 for Ateneo and 34 for UST.