When you have a brilliant setter like Jia Morado, transitioning from a veteran floor defender like Denden Lazaro to a converted one like Gizelle Tan will have minimal effect on your team’s offense.
Which is why even during Tan’s adjustment period to her new role, Ateneo continues to enjoy the view at the penthouse, sitting atop the rankings with a 3-0 record.
And while there are a couple of lapses on the defensive end for the Lady Eagles, the reigning best setter remains cool and composed both on and off the court with regard to the team’s reception.
“Wala naman kaming ine-expect na makukuha nila kaagad. Ganun naman talaga, unti-unti,” she told FOX Sports after they dismantled FEU Wednesday. “No pressure naman sa defense namin this year. We are adjusting together.”
“Siyempre seniors na ‘yung last year and marami na silang experience. This year kailangan pa namin ng experience,” she added.
Aside from Lazaro, the defending champions also lost the services of Ella de Jesus and Michelle Morente, who were both huge sources of steady reception for the Lady Eagles in the past seasons.
Fortunately for the Katipunan squad, setter-turned-libero Jamie Lavitoria stepped up against the Lady Tamaraws when Tan momentarily struggled to provide quality first balls.
“Si Jamie kasi matagal na siyang nagte-train hard talaga. As in makikita talaga sa training na she’s really working hard on her defense and her receive,” attests Morado on Lavitoria’s work ethic.
“Parehas sila ni Gizelle nagco-compliment sa isa’t isa so kung ‘yung isa off, ‘yung isa papasok,” she added. “Si Jamie timely lang talaga na makuha niya ‘yung time niya sa court and I’m really proud of her.”
The 38 excellent sets dished by Morado in their last outing perhaps is the best proof that the hard work of both liberos are starting to pay off.
She, however, is not one to count the number of excellent sets she delivers every match.
“Hindi naman ako nagbibilang ng excellent sets,” she said.
“‘Yung pino-problema ko lang is kung mapapalo ba ng spikers ang sets ko,” added teh national team member. “Nag start kami sa reception, sa first ball, and gumana naman this game so mas dumali ang buhay ng spikers.” — Mac Dionisio