An update on the Blue and Lady Spikers. I wrote the first half on the Lady Spikers.
This was published in the November 2011 hardcopy issue of The GUIDON, in the Sports section and in December 2011 for the online version
No podium finish for Spikers by Ally M. Lim, Roman C. Mirasol
THE ATENEO de Manila University was one of 47 participating schools in the 16th Philippine Sports Commission University Games (Unigames) held in Roxas City, Capiz. For the Blue and Lady Spikers, the tournament served as the final stage of preparation before both teams gear up for the upcoming UAAP volleyball.
In their first day of competition, the Lady Spikers racked up a pair of wins, with straight set victories against the University of Negros Occidental – Recoletos and the Unigames’ host school, Colegio de la Purisima Concepcion. A win against the Adamson Lady Falcons the next day propelled the Lady Spikers into the quarterfinals.
Despite gaining their third straight sweep, however, it would be the last victory for the Lady Spikers. Key players Dzi Gervacio, Gretchen Ho, Denise Lazaro, Jem Ferrer, Alyssa Valdez and captain Fille Cainglet departed Roxas City to participate in the Shakey’s V-League Southeast Asian Club Invitational in Manila. Unable to continue the win streak, Bea Tan, Mona Bagatsing, Ella De Jesus, Natasha Faustino, Aillysse Nacachi, Sarah Cruz and Mae Tajima succumbed to the Central Philippine University Spikers in the semifinals, losing in straight sets.
Meanwhile, back in Manila, former Lady Spiker Aerial Patnongon joined Cainglet, Gervacio, Ho, Lazaro and Ferrer at the Shakey’s event. The Lady Spikers faced the Philippine Army Lady Troopers, Vietnam’s Vietsovpetro squad, and a Malaysian team that included members from the country’s national squad, which competed in the recent Southeast Asian Games. The single round robin tournament concluded with Vietnam as champions, the Lady Troopers in second place, and Malaysia placing third.
“The higher level of play was a challenging experience for the whole team. Our win against Malaysia gave us a boost. We were able to gauge ourselves and see what we can still improve on as a team,” Ho said, assessing the experience the team gained from playing with international teams at the V-League Invitational.
Contrary to their female counterparts, the Blue Spikers dropped their Unigames opener against Davao Merchant Marine Academy – College of Southern Philippines (DMMA-CSP).
The men’s team would respond well by securing their first victory in the second day, defeating the University of Northern Philippines in sweeping fashion. The Blue Spikers dominated the first and third sets 25-10, 25-15 while narrowly escaping the second set, 27-25. Back-to-back losses would unfortunately follow, the first of which saw the Blue Spikers come up short against the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod in day three.
Day four saw the boys in blue take the court twice, but it turned out to be the end of the road for them. They succumbed to fellow UAAP team, National University, before ending their Unigames campaign on a high note, taking all three sets against Negros Oriental State University.
The Blue Spikers finished with a 2-3 record and failed to secure a quarterfinal spot. Despite bowing out of the competition early, they improved on last year’s performance.
Though Ateneo volleyball didn’t garner podium finishes in this year’s Unigames, the opportunity for both teams to build their chemistry and polish their games in preparation for the grueling season proved to be valuable.
“We know this is our year. We just need to give our 100 percent,” said Ferrer.
With convincing performances in the pre-season, the Lady Spikers are once again perceived as perennial contenders for the UAAP title, while the Blue Spikers will look to punch a ticket back into the Final Four, after missing out for the first time in three seasons last year.
Read the online edition of the GUIDON here.