Volleyball evangelist Tex Suter offers his analysis of the two UAAP Season 79 volleyball matches on Saturday that had playoff implications.
GAME 1: UST def. NU, 20-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-12
This game had playoff implications as UST wanted to cement its seat at the Final Four table, and the Lady Bulldogs wanted to force a playoff game. Here’s what happened.
Set 1 saw both teams exchange points and try to establish their respective weapons. Jaja Santiago was being moved around the front row to put pressure on the UST defense from everywhere at the net. UST led into the first TTO 8-7, then NU went on a 9-1 run to take the lead into the second TTO 16-9. The set ended 25-20 in favor of the Lady Bulldogs. The secret to their success was their offense by committee which had UST’s defense chasing after them. With an error count of 5-3, the game was clean and boiled down to execution which NU was better at this set.
The second set saw UST race to a 16-10 lead into the second TTO, largely in part to unforced errors by the Lady Bulldogs. Then it was UST’s turn to be plagued by errors, as the Lady Bulldogs closed to within three points, 18-21. The pressure now was squarely on the Golden Tigresses. The combination of poor passing became inefficient execution in the end game and cost them the set 25-19. NU showing discipline at playing the point and not the score.
Set 3 saw NU trail UST in both TTO’s 8-6 and 16-13. NU’s failure to be efficient in the execution department cost them the set. UST’s renewed commitment to defend by committee afforded them three more attack points which proved to be the difference in the set as UST took it 25-22. Sisi Rondina and EJ Laure were taking the lead and never relented. Riri Meneses and Christine Francisco also established a middle game for Alex Cabanos as she now had more targets to set. UST attacked by committee and induced errors by the Lady Bulldogs.
Set 4 again saw UST establish a commanding 16-8 lead into the second TTO. The error monster plagued the Golden Tigresses as they would string errors together and let NU back in the set. The Lady Bulldogs went on a 10-2 run now knotted the score at 18 apiece. Fortunately for the Golden Tigresses, the error monster decided to hang out with the Lady Bulldogs in the end game. NU had 11 errors versus UST’s five that gave the set to the Golden Tigresses 25-21 to force a fifth set.
Set 5 saw UST get to eight points first for the change of court. The Golden Tigresses were able to outlast the Lady Bulldogs by virtue of being better in transition execution. Christine Francisco had an 11-point performance for UST. The young middle able to come up with clutch points. UST’s commitment to defend by committee proved the difference in the set as UST closed it out 15-12.
The key to winning this game was all about which team could play together. When UST began defending by committee, they had success. When NU attacked by committee, they had the edge. It boiled down to which team could sustain its game plan against the other. Both teams took turns in winning the battles through the first four sets, and UST finally edged out the Lady Bulldogs in the tiebreaker set. Kudos to the two floor generals of the Lady Tigresses, Sisi Rondina and EJ Laure who finished with 19 and 22 points respectively, although it would be Christine Francisco’s breakout performance that would garner the Best Player award. UST now cemented its hold on the third chair at the Final Four table.
GAME 2: ADMU def. DLSU, 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19
This game was between the top two teams jockeying for top spot heading into the playoffs. The rivalry between these two programs always makes for some great volleyball. Let’s see what happened.
Set 1 was all about what DLSU wanted to do, and what ADMU could not do. ADMU was just not in the set mentally as DLSU breezed through the set 25-12. Not too many talking points in this one as ADMU did not compete.
Set 2 saw a more mentally present ADMU team as Jia Morado began to get her weapons established, taking a lead into the first TTO 8-7. DLSU was also establishing a rhythm, as Kim Fajardo tried to get her middles going. There seemed to a be timing issue between Fajardo and her middles as the connections were not as clean as I am used to seeing. This forced the wings to produce, and Des Cheng and Tine Tiamzon were effective on the wings as was Kim Dy. DLSU was able to take the lead into the second TTO 16-15. The set ended 25-20 with ADMU winning the execution battle. Morado was able to dictate tempo and made DLSU a little more defensive. The Lady Spikers had 11 errors versus only five for the Lady Eagles.
Set 3 saw DLSU lead into both TTO’s, 8-7 and 16-14. Ateneo then went on a run that made DLSU again more defensive and unable to really establish a middle game. The Lady Spikers were just unable to match the intensity of ADMU. Kim Fajardo tried to establish a middle game, but some execution miscues resulted in two errors in two attempts. That really killed any momentum that DLSU was trying to build. The Lady Eagles took the set 25-21.
The fourth set saw Ateneo smell blood in the water and kept pressure on the Lady Spikers reception. ADMU was leading into the second TTO 16-13, and closed the set out 25-19. The score was close than it should be, as DLSU went on a mini run toward the end of the set. ADMU able to serve tough which induced free balls, thus giving Morado a chance to run a efficient transition game. DLSU seemingly did not want this game as badly as ADMU did, falling in four sets.
This game began with one team dominating the other, then slowly succumb to a steady dose of pressure to be dominated toward the end game in each set. ADMU was simply a better team today. Kim Fajardo could not establish their tempo with any consistency and that made them a team easier to block due to a slower offense. Jia Morado, on the other hand, was able to dictate tempo and establish all her weapons. DLSU had to defend against too many weapons and the engagements were dictated by ADMU.
If DLSU will rely solely on their wings, they cannot expect to defend their title. If they rely solely on Dawn Macandili for defense, they will not defend it either. They were again dictated in this game and must find a way to enforce their game on the opponent and rule the middle. That is my humble opinion of course. Kudos to Jules Samonte for stepping up and playing a solid game. She had big shoes to fill, and did so effectively.