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3 things from Ateneo-UE volleyball clash

The Ateneo Lady Eagles | Contributed Photo/Rick Olivares
MANILA, Philippines – This match presented two teams going in opposite directions. While the Ateneo Lady Eagles are on course for another title (of course the season isn’t half done), the University of the East Lady Warriors continue to succumb to UAAP depths of mediocrity and infamy. 
 
Make no mistake, it wasn’t an easy match to watch because you have to feel for UE. 
 
Here are three things to take away from the match.
 
It is the perfect game right before the Lady Eagles’ match with La Salle.
 
With all due respect to the luckless UE Lady Warriors, the match was a relatively trouble free one for the two-time defending champions. Ateneo defeated UE in three straight sets - 25-12, 25-10, 25-10 — holding the Lady Warriors to their lowest point total of their lost season, 32 points. UE’s previous low was 41 against NU. 
 
Perhaps even more tragic is UE only had 10 won points (22 of the 32 came from Ateneo’s errors)! 
 
The frightening thing about games like this is when one team perceives it to be an easy win, they relax or play around a bit. And that finds them suddenly in a dogfight with a reinvigorated and upset-minded foe or dealing with some unnecessary injuries. No such thing for the Lady Eagles who quickly buried UE to allow the bench to empty.
 
Alyssa Valdez hasn’t really needed to exert herself too much this season and that underscores the strength and balance of the team. Once more, she deferred the spotlight with her teammates.
 
While not exactly a competitive match, it was loose game and afforded Ateneo a chance to experiment a bit right before Saturday’s big clash with La Salle.
 
Almost every Lady Eagle received some valuable and much-needed playing time.
 
In the previous match, Ponggay Gaston got some playing time underscoring the fact that Ateneo Coach Anusorn Bundit has plans for her. 
 
This time, he gave her more playing time and also some to Therese Gaston, Ria Lo, and Deanna Wong all who scored points if not contributed. Gizelle Tan also got some more playing time at the libero position.
 
I am a firm believer in giving rookies some if not meaningful playing time because it will help their confidence and keep them ready to go at any given time.
 
I feel bad for UE.
 
At 0-6 with only one won set and 18 lost ones (with one more match to go this first round), the Lady Warriors have quickly skidded down the table. Skidding is a massive understatement.
 
Dating back to Season 75, they have not won a game. Since that year, they have lost 48 matches. In that span, they are 9-144 in won-lost sets (they won three matches in Season 74).
 
I feel bad for these girls who still troop to the court and try to give it some fight. They have some talent for sure. They certainly have the height. But they need to get out of that losing funk. Sometimes, the errors they commit make you cringe.
 
And they are the only team in the league not to use knee pads. For whatever reason, I still feel bad for these girls. 
 
Hopefully, there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for them. They should go out and play harder and try to resurrect the season.
 
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