Facing struggling NU next, Jewel Lai wants UP to strike first

Jewel Lai was there when UP beat UST twice in Season 77. This year, she was a major part as the Lady Maroons took Round 1 of their UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament battle last Sunday. 

The sophomore playmaker was named Player of the Game after finishing with 32 excellent sets, leading the Diliman spikers to a hard-earned 4-set win over the Golden Tigresses.

“Inisip namin na kailangan namin matalo UST, kasi nga last year natalo namin sila twice, gusto namin panindigan, and pakita namin sa kanila na mas malakas kami,” she said.

Read: Captain of last UP women’s volley champion team talks about glory days

It was Lai’s strategy to confuse the middle blockers of UST by making them commit to Kathy Bersola and Marian Buitre, therefore leading her outside hitters with only one blocker.

True enough, her strategy was effective, as Ria Meneses was unable to read UP’s plays, leading to UST coach Kung Fu Reyes to sub her out for Chloe Cortez.

“Sabi ni Coach Jerry bigyan ng bigyan yung middle, para malito yung blocker kapag binigay ko na sa wing,” said the sophomore.

Read: Ex-star spiker Arielle Estranero thanks UP coach for making her a libero

The Lady Maroons face a tougher time when they lock horns with NU on Wednesday. To this, Lai remains confident.

“Oo naman, kasi straight sets sila (against FEU). So mas naisip namin na kaya namin toh,” she said. “Siguro mas kailangan namin tapangan and kapitan. Kailangan namin unahan sila sa conversion.” — By Arylle Magtalas

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