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 4, 2016

Four points to take away from the UST Golden Tigresses volleyball debut vs Adamson

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Four points to take away from the UST Golden Tigresses volleyball debut vs Adamson
by rick olivares

The University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses may have fallen short in their UAAP Season 78 debut against the Adamson Lady Falcons in five sets, (22-25, 21-25, 25-20, 30-28, 14-16) but you know they were right there up to the very end with a very good opponent.

Here are four points from their opening game.

Cherry Rondina could be UST’s and the league’s next big time scorer.
I was surprised with the rather up and down game by new UST captain EJ Laure. She looked tentative at times and was overthinking her game. Unlike her UAAP debut last season where she sparkled this time, she struggled. Sure she scored 15 points but she could have put in more.

But Rondina….  it seems she even has enough energy to play a second game on the same day! Thirty-points on opening day! And in Season 77, she was the league’s 40th best scorer! For the most part, Adamson couldn’t block her. In fact, the one stand out block on her was a one-on-one play with Lady Falcons setter Fen Emnas.

But she kept UST in the fight in those first two sets. If she didn’t play well, it would have been over quickly. By the latter three sets, her other teammates, most notably, Laure, began to pick up their scoring.

What will it take for Alex Cabanos to lead this team?
In Season 77, former coach Odjie Mamon started off with rookie Sarah Verutiao but the latter didn’t perform too well in the early stages so they went with Alex Cabanos.

This Season 78, Alina Bicar started off as setter for UST and although she topped her side with 18 excellent sets, the bulk of that came in the first two sets when Cherry Rondina had a field day. Am not saying she can’t set but by the third set onwards, Cabanos was the main setter and she too finished with 18 excellent sets. Although she did have some spotty sets in the late stages of the game. 

Cabanos only got significant playing time last season so I’m not sure if you can say she’s a real veteran except in playing years but she figures to tag team with Bicar this season. And her powerful serves will keep her on the floor.

Patience, grasshopper. Coach Kungfu is here.
You have to like the demeanour of Emilio Reyes Jr. or “Coach Kungfu” as he is nicknamed. Doesn’t need to raise his voice. Reminders here and there. Encouraging his players. Calming presence. Loved it when he reminded his team about their character. 

I like the fact that he used all but one of his players. Rookie Rica Rivera paid his trust by scoring seven points for her team. That debut should serve her well in the long run. 

They are good but they should be mindful of some things.
Well, last season, as a team, they were:
fourth in spiking
second in blocking
fifth in serving
third in digging
third in setting
and fifth in receiving.

One game is too early to tell how they play and will eventually figure out. But there is potential. They have the pieces to contend for a playoff berth and maybe more. Someone on Twitter asked how I rate this team and commented that UST was merely strong. My answer there is the Golden Tigresses showed resiliency by fighting back from two sets down to forge a fifth set. If you look at the scores, they were there until the end. No blowouts! That says something about them.

However, the three concerns they need to address would be their floor defense, consistency, and mental toughness. There might be an imbalance between hinog veterans and talented newcomers but if Coach Kungfu can mold this team and they get better as the season progresses, there is no telling where the can finish.

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