Action in the Philippine SuperLiga Invitational Conference continued on Saturday, and our volleyball evangelist Tex Suter was there to witness the matches between Generika-Ayala and Sta. Lucia, and Cignal and Cocolife.
GAME 1: Generika-Ayala def. Sta Lucia, 25-21, 25-13, 25-16
This game was between an experienced Generika team and a Lady Realtors team that had youth on their side. Let’s see how this played out.
The Lifesavers showed immediately the seasoning advantage they had over their younger opponents in Set 1. They got to the 1st TTO with the lead 8-5. Sta Lucia began to stay in the points better and transition effectively. The Generika-Ayala team did not adjust quickly, giving Sta. Lucia the lead into the 2nd TTO 16-11. That was a 11-3 run by the Lady Realtors that induced errors by the Lifesavers. The end game was where experience and seasoning began to show for the Lifesavers as Sta. Lucia looked baffled at what was happening to them, dropping the set 21-25.
Set 2 was dominated by the Lifesavers from start to finish. The first TTO was 8-3, then 16-8 in the second. The set was over 25-13. The reason Sta Lucia lost this set was their back row defense was too static — there was more watching than reading. For a defense to be effective, they must read the play coming at them and place themselves where the blockers are not covering. The Lady Realtors failed to do this and dropped the set.
Set 3 was more of the same. We can’t blame the back row defense entirely for the loss in the set. The main reason was Generika-Ayala played to their strength which was establish a threat on the wings then dominate the middle. They did just that. Mikaela Lopez and Gen Casugod wreaked havoc in the middle, while Angeli Araneta killed Sta. Lucia from the wings. The set ended 25-16.
In this game we saw experience trump youth in a big way. Generika-Ayala was able to run their middles after they had established a threat from the wings. It also helped that Casugod was virtually unstoppable in the middle. Not enough pressure was exerted on the Generika-Ayala defense to take the middle game away. The Life Savers passed the ball better as evidenced by a 40-16 advantage in attacks. Congratulations to Angeli Araneta for winning the Best Player award. She is one of the smartest players in the PSL, in my opinion. She finished with 12 points.
Game 2: Cignal def. Cocolife, 25-15, 25-20, 25-16
This game was between a Cignal team that had the advantage in every aspect of the game, and an Asset Managers team — comprised of veterans and younger players — that was still trying to coalesce. Let’s see what happened.
Set 1 saw both teams field their starters. That is a testament to the importance of winning the first set. Cignal right away showed their veteran savvy. They attacked from everywhere possible. First attack was from the service line, and this limited Cocolife’s offense. This made it easier for the HD Spikers to set their defense up for a transition opportunity. The set was over 25-15, as Cocolife had a difficult time finding a flow to transition due to inefficient passing.
The second set saw line up changes for both teams per the tournament rules. The set was a little more competitive as Cocolife was able to stay in the points better and transition through their middles. Unfortunately for the Asset Managers, the starters of Cignal we’re back in after the second TTO and the pressure on the defense from the first set was back. Jovy Gonzaga was a major thorn for Cocolife from the right side, while Rachel Daquis torched them from the service line. The set ended 25-20, Cignal having a 5-1 edge in service aces.
The professionalism of Cignal showed in Set 3 as they endeavored to put their opponents away quickly. They led 8-4 into the 1st TTO and 16-9 in the second TTO. The HD Spikers never looked back and continued the onslaught. Cocolife looked more intimidated and seemed the fight was taken out of them by the HD Spikers. The set was over 25-16, the veteran Cignal team taking the match in straight sets.
This contest showed the advantage Cignal had over Cocolife. As I said earlier, Cignal had the advantage in every aspect of the game. Aside from having many weapons, there was one intricacy that I believe made a huge difference, the free ball. Cignal always had a hitter posed for any ball popped up. Let me explain this.
Even when Cignal was scrambling on defense, but was able to get the ball near a player, Cignal would turn that into an effective attack when Cocolife was expecting a free ball. That in turn kept the pressure on the Cocolife defense and took away their set plays. Rhea Ramirez could only run her middles by setting them from off the net. That was effective to a certain extent, but not with any consistency. When Cignal would transition, the attack could come from anywhere. Being able to turn a busted play into an effective attack is testament to a defensive commitment.