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.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Looking at the opening PVL Collegiate Conference matches

Looking at the opening PVL Collegiate Conference matches
by rick olivares

It is hard to gauge where each team that is participating in the Premier Volleyball League’s Collegiate Conference because it’s their first few really competitive games under the bright lights and on national television. Furthermore, each team’s regular collegiate tournament is still months away so for many if not all squads, it’s all about experimenting and learning about themselves and the opposition.

Nevertheless, here are some of our thoughts based on just these first few matches.

Arellano University defeated College of St. Benilde (25-20, 25-22, 25-17)
For the defending NCAA Champions Lady Chiefs, they didn’t miss a beat despite losing out on Ria Sante. They still have enough weapons in Jovie Prado, Mary Ann Esguerra, Regine Arocha, and Andrea Marzan. Setter Rhea Ramirez is also a threat not only because of her setting (she got five of her teammates to score five or more points) but she can also score some. Coach Roberto Javier’s squad is good but it’s hard to gauge against a CSB team that has lost much of its championship squad of two seasons ago.

They have yet to find a capable replacement for former setter Djanel Cheng who graduated after their title season. It’s no use quibbling about who graduated but those expected to pick it up – Rachel Austero, Ranya Musa, and Arianne Daguil couldn’t really get going. But this is a good test for Macky Cariño’s squad. It’s best they take their licks this early so they can correct them.

Ateneo de Manila University defeated Jose Rizal University (25-17, 25-15, 25-15)
The championship core is dwindling but the Lady Eagles still have a lot of big game experience. The question is the shuffling of players and who will step up. It is good to see Bea De Leon finally land the captaincy because she is a real leader who will not shy from saying what is on her mind.

Key moves are Kim Gequillana moving to the libero spot and Deanna Wong back to her more familiar setting spot. Both gave a very good account of themselves. I have to point out to Gequillana who has played different roles through the years – starting, coming off the bench, playing the service specialist and now, libero. Invaluable if you ask me.

I said this last year but this is never more true – now sans Alyssa Valdez and Jia Morado and with Jhoana Maraguinot and Gequillana the last of Roger Gorayeb’s players – Anusorn Bundit will have to do the best coaching of his career.

Good start for Ateneo (with scoring from all sides maybe except the back row) but hard to gauge since JRU isn’t exactly a top side. A lot of works needs to be done. It’s not exactly good when you rely on opponent’s errors for more than half your points.

Far Eastern University defeated San Sebastian College (25-17, 25-21, 25-14)
It’s a three-set win for FEU but it was plain to see that they weren’t at their best. New coach George Pascua rotated his players. Gel Cayuna started at the setter position for the first set then Kyle Negrito started the second with Cayuna taking over the last set. For the libero position, Pascua shuffled Ria Duremdes and Kyla Atienza but it was the latter who saw more playing time.

Jerrili Malabanan showed her true worth and value with her massive stint with BaliPure in the PVL. Now if Coach Pascua can translate her solid play with FEU she will be a much needed weapon. And Celine Domingo is a huge addition to this team though.

For this first match, their floor defense looked all right. It’s the middle attack that is missing with the graduation of Remy Palma.

San Sebastian is lacking a lot – middle attack, consistency in the wings, and playmaking. I thought that setter Vira Guillema played well in the PVL but without talented teammates she struggled too. Nikka Dalisay who is a former NCAA Rookie of the Year looks to be the main weapon with help from Daurene Santos. Dangie Encarnacion was once more inconsistent. Aside from this being a young team, they really lack height.

It’s going to be a tough year for San Sebastian that has not won in a while despite making the finals the past three years and sporting the best record in that span of time. Now, even making the Final Four will be like a championship for them.

San Beda College defeated Technological Institute of the Philippines (25-13, 25-18, 25-27, 25-13).
The question here is can San Beda join the volleyball elite? Hard to tell when facing a young squad (with potential). But definitely, this is now Cesca Racraquin’s team. She soaked up a whale of experience playing for Anusorn Bundit and the Creamline Cool Smashers where she showed she can play a variety of positions. That is going to be massive for Nemesio Gavino’s squad. But look out for the daughter of a media colleague of ours – Satrriani Espiritu (daughter of photographer Sonny Espiritu).

The TIP Lady Engineers have a good core but need more exposure and consistency. That is why these games are played.

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