UP rookie Diana Carlos says it’s an honor to beat defending champs

The 4-set tussle between Ateneo and UP looked familiar to PH volleyball fans who have been following Season 78 religiously.

Just a week ago before the Lady Maroons completed a major upset against the defending champs, it was La Salle who did the same feat using the same strategy: keep serving hard.

According to freshman Diana Carlos, UP head coach Jerry Yee’s instructions are firm. The girls off Diliman are to send loaded serve after another to disrupt the play of the opponent.

“Sinabi po talaga coach ‘yun na mas mabigat na service ang kailangan. Pina-practice din naman namin sa training ‘yun,” Carlos told FOX Sports.

“Mas madiin ‘yung serve, mas maganda kasi mas mahihirapan ang kalaban na gawin ang plays nila,” she added.

While some thought Ateneo would have adjusted by Sunday after La Salle exposed its weakness in reception, the Lady Eagles continued to struggle on the defensive end, causing their offense to suffer as well.

Carlos, who has been converted to an opposite spiker since she joined UP, was also part of Yee’s mid-game surprise as she was sent back to being a middle blocker, a position she knows by heart since she started playing the sport.

“‘Yung transition ko pabalik ng middle sa kalagitnaan ng game hindi po siya naging masyadong malaking adjustment kasi middle po talaga ako nung high school,” said the Pampanga native. “Sinabi ko lang na same lang naman ang trabaho. Mas kailangan lang talaga mag block.”

It was a daunting task for Carlos to go up against taller middle blockers from the Ateneo side in Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag yet she pulled through.

The secret? Don’t get intimidated, she says.

“Ang lalaki nga po ng blockers ng Ateneo,” she admitted.

“Ginawa ko na lang po focus na lang and I just played my game. Kung ano ‘yung ginagawa sa training, ‘yun lang din ginawa ko. Wag lang magpapa-intimidate,” she added.

The position switch-up with Marian Buitre, as it turns out, was not a spur of the moment decision for Yee.

““Sinabi lang ni coach na kulang ako sa dig sa game. Sabi niya, kumuha ka ng stats mo sa block. Buti naman naging effective po ako sa blocking kahit papaano,” shared Carlos, who finished the 1st round as the league’s 8th best blocker. “Gumana ‘yung strategy ni coach. Lahat naman kasi ng pwestuhan namin planado ni coach.”

“Happy po ako kasi magaling po talaga sila. Defending champion po ‘yun. Karangalan po na manalo. Nadagdagan po ‘yung confidence ng team,” she closed. — By Mac Dionisio