Gatekeepers: Lavitoria, Tan get the job done for Ateneo
Mark Escarlote on Feb 10, 2016 05:55 PM
Gizelle Tan (no. 7) had eight digs in Ateneo de Manila's third straight win.
It’s a known fact that Ateneo de Manila lost its key defensive players in prized libero Denden Lazaro and Ella De Jesus who both graduated after last season.
What kept the Lady Eagles’ undefeated run in the 78th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament is the emergence liberos Jamie Lavitoria and fourth year Gizelle Tan.
They may not be the next Lazaro or De Jesus but they are trying their best to help Ateneo’s floor defense and control of the first ball to give veteran setter Jia Morado a good look to set up a play for their loaded hitters led by reigning Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez.
Their effort were not left unnoticed as Valdez praised their performance in Ateneo’s 25-22, 25-19, 25-15, win over Far Eastern University Wednesday at the MOA Arena.
The Lady Eagles improved their record to 3-0 to remain on top of the standings and are on a 21-game winning roll since the last two games of Season 76 Finals.
“I’m really happy for Jaime she’s really super hardworking ever since talaga, Oh my God, since her first year in Ateneo,” said Valdez of the sophomore defense specialist.
She also had the same comment on Tan, who during an offseason tournament played as a setter.
“‘Di ba setter siya turned in to a libero, same as Gizelle, they’re really accepting the role and the challenge to help the team,” added Valdez.
Both liberos shared the job in three sets.
Tan had eight digs while Lavitoria registered eight perfect receptions for Ateneo, which dealt FEU its 13th straight head-to-head defeat dating back to Season 71.
“They’re really doing a great job. As in super.”
It is Lavitoria’s debut of the season as head coach Tai Bundit opted to use Tan the whole match in Ateneo’s first two wins.
“Isipin mo na ikaw ba naman ipasok ng crucial ng out of nowhere din talaga? Wala rin naman sa plan siguro (na ipasok siya) pero as a player you have to be ready. And Jamie showed today that she’s always ready,” added Valdez. “Siguro ngayon sobrang timing talaga na ipinasok siya and ipinakita niya rin kung anong mayroon siya.”
Valdez stressed that Ateneo’s campaign for a three-peat depends on both Lavitoria and Tan.
“Sabi nila defense wins championships or wins every game din talaga. We really need them kasi ‘yun ang bumubuhay sa team also, sa lahat naman, sa lahat ng teams ‘yung depensa,” said the Queen Eagle. “Hindi rin naman kami kalakihan na team. Hindi rin naman kami masyado sa blocking so kailangan din naming mag-double time sa depensa and Gizelle and Jamie are really trying their best and they’re really pushing themselves para matulungan din ang team.”
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