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 16, 2017

Looking at UP’s huge win over DLSU in women’s volleyball

Looking at UP’s huge win over DLSU in women’s volleyball
by rick olivares

Following the De La Salle Lady Spikers’ three-set loss (25-22, 25-21, 25-19) to the hard-charging University of the Philippines Lady Maroons yesterday, I had this momentary though that reminded me on an incident the previous season.

Last year, both Ateneo and La Salle were undefeated heading into their encounter to close out the first round. The former were the two-time defending champions while the latter were two-time bridesmaids. The latter came out with an intensity that Ateneo was unable to match and they were undone in three sets with their deficiencies exposed.

I felt the same way with La Salle’s loss. For sure it isn’t easy when you lose key players to graduation. There’s the matter of rebuilding and rearing younger players.

Looking at the Lady Spikers, they still have a very good team. The loss to UP could be a bump on the road or a sign of things to come because as many as six teams are competing for a Final Four slot. The hunter, La Salle, is now the hunted.

What hurt them was the lack of experience for key starters – Eduke Ogunsanya and Tin Tiamzon. That translated to some uncharacteristic confusion and poor attacks. As Ogunsanya soaks in more big game experience, she will get better. And I see her as a nice complement if not replacement for Majoy Baron. I believe it is also the same with others. May Luna has a great debut last season but she saw her playing time dwindle as Kim Dy took center stage.

It is that lack of experience that saw them come out rather cool than with a lot of energy. A stark contrast how they took to the floor in their first round encounter with Ateneo last season.

La Salle has a good team in the making. I like head coach Ramil De Jesus’ willingness to go to his bench. Two years ago when Ateneo nailed its back-to-back title at De Jesus’ wards’ expense, that is when he pulled out Desiree Cheng and gave major minutes to Baron who flourished with the opportunity given.

Arriane Layug and Michelle Cobb showed glimpses of their potential in their short stint on the floor as the subs got La Salle back in the game.

Up next for them is dangerous National University. However, the Lady Bulldogs could be vulnerable if setter Jasmine Nabor still feels pain in her knees because Laarni Aberin isn’t ready. How both sides respond to their current adversity will be interesting to follow.

Looking at UP, this win will greatly boost their confidence. People were concerned about burnout as they played a lot of pre and post-season matches. At one point, they looked it that is why head coach Jerry Yee opted to play his bench. It looks like the months before the start of the season afforded them some rest (although we do know they were training) and they do not look tired at all.

They know they are good and that gives them plenty of confidence. Their energy wavered but that is where the veterans step in. Tiamzon and Kathy Bersola supplied the leadership, consistency, and timely points. When their youngsters got their second wind… boom!

I like how Yee has moved players around. Arielle Estrañero moving to the setter position is a good move. That actually gives him flexibility. There’s Mae Basarte, Nicole Tiamzon who is as versatile as they come, and Rose Cailing who is waiting in the wings and received a lot of playing time during the past V-League season.

Having said that, the setter position still has room for lots of improvement. I thought that Estrañero had a lot of dicey sets that either translated into poor attacks or ones that found a way through because either Nicole Tiamzon improvised or they scored off a check ball.

Justine Dorog is all right at the libero position as Princess Gaiser finds her way back. I think Dorog’s switch gives Tots Carlos more room to grow. I figure Dorog will be back to her old position either midway this year or after this campaign.

The Lady Maroons can hit. The remarkable change is their floor defense. La Salle struggled to find holes in UP’s defense. The net defense though is still wanting. But as I said earlier, they will build on this.

The more wins they rack up their confidence will soar. Especially if they can take down inconsistent UST this coming Sunday.

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