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, May 17, 2018

Breaking down BaliPure’s win over PetroGazz

Breaking down BaliPure’s win over PetroGazz
by rick olivares

The young BaliPure National University Water Defenders outplayed the PetroGazz Angles in a five-set win (22-25, 25-23, 28-26, 22-25, 15-12) at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

It was obvious that outside BaliPure NU’s imports in Janisa Johnson and Alexis Mathews (and veterans Rose Doria and Audrey Paran) that high-level experience was still lacking for some players especially in the first set that resulted in a loss.

And it was on display for much of the first set before the team settled down.

What was noteworthy?

A one-two combination to watch in Cagande-Johnson
Watching the Joyme Cagande and Janisa Johnson connection was like watching Gary Payton throw up the ball to former Seattle Supersonics teammate Shawn Kemp. I remember how one time, Kemp complained at the level of difficulty of some of Payton’s lobs. Ever the loquacious one, Payton replied that he’s catching the lobs anyway for a dunk.

It’s the same with Cagande and Johnson as the former, who is only an incoming freshman at NU, tries to find consistency in her game. But what was most impressive was how Johnson adjusts to the set in mid-air for a variety of shots that were truly impressive. She reads the blocks well and is able to either break the wall, get a check ball with a softer hit, smash one down the line, or even drop on behind the defense.

Johnson top scored with 31 points while Cagande finished with 32 excellent sets; 14 more than veteran setter Chie Saet who won a championship with La Salle during her college days.

In the first set, Cagande had difficulty finding her teammates not only because of first-ball problems but also in mixing up her sets. Come the second set, she finally utilized Alexis Mathews better providing a wing and middle attack. When Roselyn Doria came in for a struggling Ivy Lacsina, the middle attack and defense continued to be solid even when Mathews rotated out.

But Johnson…. Despite her standing at about 5’8” what an athlete! I can only imagine the damage she and former Pocari Sweat import Crystal Rivers inflicted on foes on their way to the recent French Cup that they won.

Robles is a rookie?
Speaking of size… another who impressed was open spiker Princess Robles who is a little shorter than Johnson. For those who have followed the NU high school team, you know what you’re getting with her high-flying game. Some might say, beginner’s luck in the opening day loss to Philippine Navy-Iriga, when Robles scored 15 points. Against PetroGazz, she once more displayed no nerves (except for a poor third set where she struggled with her shots and placement) en route to 17 points.

Said the Iloilo native, Robles at the post-game dinner at Mann Hann: “Kung ano ibigay ni coach (Babes Castillo), ibibigay ko lahat. Basta yun ang mindset ko – give it my all every time. Natural lang sa akin ibigay yung best kasi yun ang natutunan ko.”

That superb floor defense by Jennifer Nierva
While Johnson, Mathews, and Robles were huge for BaliPure NU, the Purest Water Defenders got things going when libero Jennifer Nierva began to play better in the late first set. Nierva had 19 excellent digs and 25 excellent receptions (to lead all players from both sides) was inspirational.

This young BaliPure NU team, even at 1-1, has greatly impressed. Volleyball fans should watch for this team.

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