Volleyball evangelist Tex Suter offers his analysis of the two UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball matches on Wednesday.
GAME 1: AdU def. UE, 25-15, 25-19, 25-15
This game pit two programs in the rebuilding phase: Adamson wanting to return to its presence in the Final Four and a UE team taking the steps forward in the progression of the program. Did UE repeat its win or did the Lady Falcons exact revenge and get their first victory of the season? Let’s see what happened.
The first set saw both teams trying to establish their middles. Adamson was a little steadier into the first TTO 8-6. The Lady Falcons looked more organized than UE, especially in the reception department. They led into the second TTO 16-10 by doing a better job establishing their middles as Joy Dacoron and Awit Joaquin were solid on both sides of the ball. This freed Jema Galanza and Bernadette Flora on the wings and second options. Adamson took the set 25-15. UE had more errors 11-6 which limited their offense.
The second set saw Adamson race to a 4-0 lead behind solid block coverage which resulted in better transition attacks. That was the story of the set as a simple but crucial skill gave the Lady Falcons more attack chances and let them run combination plays that created seams in the UE block. Adamson led from start to finish, 8-5 and 16-9 in both TTO’s. The set going to the Lady Falcons 25-19. The six point spread coming from three more attack points (13-10) and three more errors (10-7).
The third set saw Adamson still in control and the Lady Warriors out of sync. The Lady Falcons led again from beginning to end 8-6 and 16-8 in both TTO’s. The poor passing of UE prevented them from establishing a middle game. The wings had to deal with double coverage throughout the match. Shaya Adorador only managed eight points, which was not enough from the captain. The set ended 25-15. UE got a steady dose of Jema Galanza as she was unstoppable in this set.
Congratulations to the Lady Falcons for getting their first win. UE did not look hungry enough for this game. It was nice to see a simple skill be the deciding factor in deciding the outcome of the match. Block coverage saved the season for the Lady Falcons. Let this be a lesson to all the players out there of this skill’s importance. Kudos to the Adamson team captain Jema Galanza for winning Best Player of the Game. She finished with 15 points.
GAME 2: FEU def. UP, 25-16, 25-16, 27-25
This was a game that had huge Final Four implications, as this was a “win or go home” scenario. With the stakes so high, who would be mentally solid in the clutch? Here’s what went down.
The first set saw both teams go on runs and take leads. FEU proved to be steadier as they led into the second TTO 16-14. The Lady Tamaraws had and maintained the momentum going on a 9-2 tear to end the set 25-16. The Lady Maroons had more errors 10-6, and had only one ace versus four by FEU.
The second set was over 25-16, again FEU dominating. UP could not pass the ball with any efficiency to use their strength which is offensive versatility. The options for Estrañero were very limited as the tempo was slowed down by FEU’s service game. This allowed the Lady Tamaraws’ defense to react easier. Buding Duremdes was able to protect her floor and give Negrito or Cayuna a transition opportunity. This put a lot of pressure on the UP defense. The Lady Maroons were apparently not mentally in the moment.
The third set saw a more mentally focused UP team as they led 8-5 and 16-15 in both TTO’s. FEU looked like they were expecting UP to roll over and hand them the match. FEU regained their focus behind their captain Remy Palma, who protected her side of the net with solid blocks. The Lady Tamaraws got to match point 24-21, but UP mentally refused to surrender and saved four match points before finally succumbing to the Lady Tamaraws 27-25. UP fell in straight sets.
What we saw here was a UP team that was not mentally prepared for the game despite this game being the “win or go home” variety. You should not go into battle without mental fortitude. You must be willing to fight for what you want, and be prepared to struggle to achieve your goal.
FEU showed their mental experience in situations like this and maintained their poise. UP showed just how young they are as the errors in the clutch cost them dearly. The scary thing is UP is young and will get better. That should scare the teams for next year. UP will need to lick their wounds and really taste this bitter defeat. May they never want to taste it again. That’s how you make a team refuse to lose.