More than Ateneo playing bad, it was more about UP playing excellent volleyball if you ask spiker Bea de Leon.
While the Lady Eagles’ 35 unforced errors are already telling, the 4-set loss of the defending champs also had a lot to do with the in-game adjustments of the Jerry Yee-led squad.
With Plan A not working for the Diliman crew, Yee weaved his magic and placed rookie Diana Carlos in the middle, giving the less agile Marian Buitre an opening to focus more on her bullet-like kills.
This, says De Leon, gave her and the rest of the Katipunan squad a massive headache.
“In terms of their plays, we knew where they were going but it was our fault na we would block too early or we’d be too late. Nandun kami eh. But they were too good,” admitted the middle blocker.
Ateneo, despite being the league’s leading spiking team, was outdone by UP in the attacking department, 42-45, while also being outperformed at the net, 5 blocks to 7.
It’s not about the Katipunan squad not doing its job. According to de Leon, the scouting report was clear but UP’s versatility as a team caught them off-guard.
“I-scout mo sila eh. Tapos biglang iba ‘yung ginawa. Ang galing ng game nila eh,” shared the sophomore.
“Grabe anggulo nila eh. With (Isa) Molde, she would go down tapos cross,” she added, talking about the super rookie’s variety of plays. “Kita nila ‘yung butas sa block then kami maga-adjust kami then bigla nilang ico-cross. Oh my God! Ang galing ng adjustment nila.”
And though the Lady Maroons scored only 7 service aces, their heavy serves still exposed the Lady Eagles’s weakness in floor defense as they failed to bring the ball to setter Jia Morado flawlessly in many occasions.
The absence of good ball passing had the reigning best setter running around the court in her efforts to save the ball and still set up a play for Ateneo which eventually became predictable for the UP blockers.
“Definitely, we have to work on our receive. Sometimes we have good balls naman but we couldn’t convert. We lack in that department, also in digs. I think we’re 7th,” de Leon shared.
“Simula naman before, coach Tai would say na small details kaya natalo din kami sa La Salle. He’d always say na ang small detail importante like hindi namin magawa ng consistent,” said the 5-foot-11 spiker. “Minsan may receive, minsan wala. Minsan naman ang ganda ng receive pero walang spike. It’s the small details talaga na kailangan namin mag work.”
Due to the back-to-back losses, the invincible demeanor of Ateneo is starting to show some cracks, giving the opponents an idea on how to turn it into a gaping hole.
But for the Poveda alumna, the team’s trust in head coach Tai Bundit and their trust in each other will allow them to overcome the roadblocks soon enough.
“It’s coach Tai. He hasn’t failed us before. I don’t think he’s gonna fail us now,” declared de Leon. “He’s a really good coach. Wala akong masasabi in terms of his coaching style. Tiwala lang sa kanya.”
“And we still believe in ourselves to pull through with all of our trials. It’s not the end. Maaga pa,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio