The GUIDON: V-League tests Volleybelles’ mettle

This was an article I co-wrote with Chino Razon for The GUIDON.

This was published in the August 2011 hardcopy issue of The GUIDON, in the Sports section and in September 2011 for the online version

V-League tests Volleybelles’ mettle
By  on September 1, 2011 | in Sports
Last summer, 35 years of hunger was put to a halt. Five sets of well-played volleyball catapulted the Ateneo Lady Spikers to their first title in nearly three decades, with a win over Adamson in the first conference of the 2011 Shakey’s V-League.

As defending champions, however, the addition of non-school teams competing in the open conference—Army, Air Force, Navy and Maynilad—give the Lady Spikers a greater challenge to lift their competitive drive in the league’s second conference.

Competition began on July 31 at the San Juan Arena, and with the presence of more mature, veteran teams, quick adjustments were made in the Lady Spikers’ training sessions.

When asked about their preparation for such battle-tested opponents, spiker Alyssa Valdez said, “We challenge ourselves since we’re playing against a more experienced and stronger team. We train harder and play smarter.”

Ateneo started on a high note in the preliminary round with two straight victories in straight sets against the Maynilad Water Dragons and the University of Perpetual Help Lady Altas.

Their third game against the Air Force was the turning point in the conference, as Ateneo suffered its first loss.  Still, the Lady Spikers put up a good fight against the Air Force, who were led by former league MVPs Cherry Rose Macatangay and Aiza Maizo. Ateneo then succumbed to San Sebastian and veteran teams Philippine Navy and Army in the next three games.

Despite the losses, the experience they’ve gained is invaluable. According to Valdez, “Every team is aiming to be in the finals. But for us, getting experience out of this league is more important. Winning is a bonus.”

The team is aiming high and is hopeful that the momentum from this tournament will lead to an undefeated season in the UAAP. “We’re aiming to win every game that we play and hopefully this year will be our year,” continued Valdez, who currently leads the league in total points scored.

Despite the 2-4 win-loss record, Ateneo is still in the game and will continue on to the quarterfinals along with San Sebastian, Army, Navy and Air Force. The last quarterfinal seat is unfilled as of press time.

Averaging a league-best 18 hits per game, team captain Fille Cainglet said, before the final preliminary game against the Lady Troopers, “I expect my team to fight because we have nothing to lose. Win or lose, we’re still in the next round so it depends on the character of each player whether we want to play and give our opponents a good fight.”

Processing what happened after every game, constantly improving team dynamics and resolving miscommunication are the keys to shaking off losses and keeping their heads held high for the rest of the tournament.

As defending champions, the Lady Spikers are determined to put up a good fight till the end. This, plus the experience they’ve gained from playing veteran teams, will no doubt help them bring home the UAAP championship later in the year—or at the very least, seriously contend for it.

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