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 9, 2018

UAAP Women's Volleyball Season 81: UST vs UE and Ateneo Lady Eagles vs NU Lady Bulldogs

4 points to take from last Wednesday’s UAAP Volleyball Matches
by rick olivares

The season isn’t disappointing anyone. This early, the season is one of the most competitive we have seen in years. It’s great for the sport and the fans.

Here are some points to take from UST’s three set sweep of UE and NU’s five-setter against Ateneo.

It is a win but UST needs to seriously look at this game.
It is a huge win for UST to go to 1-1 but Coach Kungfu Reyes has to be concerned that his team is in danger of becoming a one-woman team. It seemed like at times it was just Cherry Rondina versus UE. The Lady Red Warriors had more players scoring in a spread out offense.

The bright side for them is this is happening early and this is a good game for Minela Alessandrini to soak in more big game experience. Following an impressive opening day game against La Salle, UST fell a little flat. Maybe that is playing down to the competition but this team will learn.

So what now, Francis Vicente?
Okay, the season is less than a week old but three playing dates have come and gone. The UE Lady Red Warriors have quickly dropped into a 0-2 hole. The good vibes of the first game where they pushed UP to a fifth set evaporated in a three-set sweep at the hands of UST. If you recall, it was like that during the start of Season 79 – a good opening match versus NU then the downward spiral. Again.

They could have done better against UST but UE committed 26 errors that hurt them. More so in the third set where they had a chance to extend the game.

I am not sure what else can be done for this team. And it isn’t like they’re a bunch of newbies. This is a veteran squad. While one can argue the quality isn’t there when compared to other squads, the fact is, they haven’t done very well at all in the past four seasons. And that is an understatement. Unless they do something about it, this might seem like another bad replay of an endless run of mediocrity.

NU is a juggernaut but the kinks in their armor are there.
During opening day, they surrendered a set to Adamson. This time it’s two sets to Ateneo. There are lapses in concentration and a tendency to nosedive in spurts. But it is a good thing this is all happening early. They know they aren’t impervious to harm and the Lady Bulldogs know they have to work on some things. Good early tests before they face teams like La Salle and FEU.

You have to like the new spin given by new head coach Babes Castillo. The players are responding and the rotation has been expanded. Jaja Santiago is staying in the game (previously after she’d serve, she’d go to the bench until she rotates in front of the net). More responsibility and she is responding.

And 2-0 is still 2-0. Good start for NU.

Another tough loss for Ateneo
Two games. Two five set losses. This reminds me of Season 71 during Roger Gorayeb’s first year when the Lady Eagles lost three of four five-setters in the first round during the Fab Five’s first year. They haven’t been in a 0-2 hole since 2006 during Louie Gepuela’s final year.

The losses do not begin to tell the story. The Lady Eagles have alternated between head scratching and awesome. But in these games, they have put up quite a fight and that is admirable. And this was one of their better matches against NU who they have not beaten in three UAAP matches dating back to last season. Lots of positives – the magic bunot of Ponggay Gaston lit a fire under the Lady Eagles. Dani Ravena playing her first game in the UAAP as a libero and conducting herself with aplomb. Deanna Wong is rounding out into her own.

Give them a lot of credit for hanging tough despite losing four crucial pieces who all figured well in their title runs. But they do have to find that sliver of sunshine soon if they want to remain in contention.

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