NBA
UAAP women’s volleyball: Assessment after the 1st round
Rick Olivares (philstar.com) - March 2, 2016 - 10:51pm
MANILA, Philippines – The first round is done. There have been big surprises and shocking performances. All that ensures that the second round will be even more hotly contested. 
 
In the meantime, here’s a look at the different teams.
 
Ateneo has defensive concerns.

In Season 77, Ateneo was best in digging and receiving although they were sixth in blocking. 
 
This Season 78, with the ascension of Maddie Madayag (and teaming up with Bea De Leon), the Lady Eagles are fourth best in the league. But they have dropped to sixth in digging and third in receiving and that chink in the armor has given teams note to test them. None more devastating that La Salle did in their last meeting.
 
Gizelle Tan started the season as libero but increasing defensive woes gave way to Jamie Lavitoria finally getting some playing time. Ateneo looked to have resolved their woes but in Jamie’s first Ateneo-La Salle match, she struggled mightily (as did her teammates). 
 
Lavitoria and Tan have done a creditable job and they figure to get better at the libero position. Unfortunately, they have to learn on the job and during the defense of their crown with a lot of teams better both offensively and defensively. 
 
The champs are still potent offensively but their defense remains suspect. In spite of that, they are still atop the league but with a host of challengers nipping at their heels.
 
La Salle has followed up sensational wins with just as sensational losses.
 
The Lady Spikers denied twice in the championship game the past two seasons, are back this year with an even better lineup. Taller, deeper, and talented, they have what it takes to win the championship this year. And they still do. They just need to be more consistent.
 
La Salle opened the season with a showcase of their depth and talent with a three set win over FEU. In their next match, they fell to NU in four sets.
 
Four matches later, they routed two-time defending champion, Ateneo with a dazzling (for them) and humiliating (for the Lady Eagles) three-set sweep. With a chance to finish atop the standings by the end of the first round, their level of play dropped as they lost to UST in three sets.
 
But we haven’t heard the last of them. They remain well-coached, dangerous and again, could win this all. And they have added quite a few weapons to help Ara Galang (who is back in great form from her grisly injury last year) while others like Kim Dy are getting some badly needed playing time.
 
The Lady Maroons are soaking up vastly needed experience.
 
A terrific blend of veteran and rookie talent! Experience is all they need. 
 
Jerry Yee has gotten it right. He built a team that is very good defensively. They are in the top three of all the defensive categories — third in blocking, second in digging, and second in receiving. Offensively, UP as a team is getting better. Imagine when they hit their stride. And it is their young players like 
 
They have players who can play multiple positions and can on any given day pile on the points. Nicole Tiamzon’s efficiency must be off the charts. The Lady Maroons will get even more dangerous as the season progresses or over the next few years.
 
FEU lacks consistency.

The FEU Lady Tamaraws are like UP and UST — a team with a great mix of veterans and rising stars. They just need to put it all together. 
 
They started out horribly against La Salle. Blew away a lousy UE team. Looked good in the early stretches against Ateneo before the Lady Eagles awoke from their slumber and put the hurt on them in the third set. Dispatched UST in four, outlasted UP in five, had Adamson on the ropes with a two set lead before crumbling in five sets.
 
That has left coach Shaq De Los Santos scratching his head at what team will show up on a daily basis. But the Lady Tamaraws are good. 
 
Last season Chin Basas was ninth in scoring in the league. This year, after seven matches, she’s third. Her improvement as an all-around player has certainly helped her team (along with the superb game by setter Gyzelle Sy).
 
That huge three-set win over NU to close out their first round should do wonders for their confidence.
 
National University has queen-sized problems.

They started the season looking to humiliate Ateneo in the first game but the Lady Eagles turned the tables on them and the opener ended in a three-set sweep. They came back to shockingly hand La Salle a loss in four sets; a testament to their potential. But they ended the first round on a three-set slide to drop out of the Final Four picture. Following their three-set loss to UP to end their first round of play, the team talked long into the night (and what for hours and hours after their match ended). The last time they did something like this, they resurrected their Season 77. 
 
The Lady Bulldogs have the talent, line-up, and skill. Mentally? They don’t reside anywhere near Ateneo’s or La Salle’s wellspring of confidence.
 
This is why they should play V-League sans guest players. You hope to toughen up your team. But when you win because your guest players lift you to the title, well…
 
UST looks to build on their win over DLSU.

Another team with the talent but is underachieving. But you can make the case for this being a young team. Youth is something that coach Kungfu Reyes has gone (with Cherry Rondina and EJ Laure leading the way) with benching the ineffective and inconsistent Marivic Meneses, making veteran Chloe Cortez come off the bench (although she has given quality minutes), and alternated setters.
 
In their last three matches of the first round, they looked to have resurrected their season with an incredible five-set win over NU where they looked dangerous in taking the first two sets, horribly wobbly in the next two and a half sets, before completing a wondrous rally.
 
Then they followed that up with a four-set loss to UP where they constantly were behind). And now the three set sweep over La Salle. While UST seized the impressive win, I would like to say that La Salle’s energy was somewhat sapped by their high energy game that they exhausted in their demolition of Ateneo. Nevertheless, it was a huge win for UST and now to see how they parlay that into the next round.
 
Time for Coach Sherwin to be a little more stern with the Lady Falcons.
 
By no means is the Final Four cast set. So much can happen. There is no middle of the pack. Save for Ateneo that has a two game lead over most of the pack (except for woeful UE), everyone else is a game behind and within striking distance. The Lady Falcons are like UST, FEU, and UP wherein they have the talent to advance. It is just chemistry, defense, and consistency. 
 
For the Lady Falcons, they have the offense. Three of the 10 best scorers in the league wear an Adamson jersey — Jema Galanza, Mylene Paat, and the solid Mae Roque. It’s their defense and decision-making that is giving them fits. 
 
Coach Sherwin Meneses has given the platform to perform. Maybe he needs to be a little more stern with his girls who have tendencies to make questionable decisions on offense and defense. But this is a good team.
 
UE needs to get out of their collective funk (and that is a massive understatement).
You have to be cruel to be kind to this team. Dead last in the league. Dead last in every statistical category for three years running. No offense. No defense. No kneepads. 
 
I think Francis Vicente is learning the hard way that college volleyball is way different than high school volleyball. His team in NU underachieved. UE? They are setting league records for futility. They have the players and the height. But they don’t have a clue on what to do. I hate to savage a team that is down. I feel bad for Vicente and his girls.
 
This team needs a makeover. They haven’t gotten any better at all. 

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