Doc Volleyball's Road to Final Four: Teams Analysis
AJ Pareja on Mar 23, 2017 03:50 PM
"If the Lady Eagles are to ensure that La Salle won’t be able to bag top seed coming into the semi-finals, high passing off the net is something to consider when up against tough serving teams." - AJ ParejaThe second round of the UAAP is definitely the most crucial part of the tournament since it usually determines the build-up towards the semi-finals and championship round. A team’s performance in the second round usually spells out the eventual trend of their standing whether they are peaking, plateauing or worse, declining.
Now that we are about to give a close to the UAAP eliminations, teams are hard pressed to tally as much as wins as they can. Undeniably, this UAAP Season 79 is proving to be the most hotly contested as there are at least six schools that can be considered contenders for the crown. As such, here are my two cents for the performance of each team thus far.
Adamson University Lady Falcons: 0-11
With a star-studded lineup of coaches, Adamson is definitely putting their rebuilding stage in full acceleration. While the team has been short of tallying their first ever win, the Lady Falcons have shown us glimpses of what they are capable of as well as how a clean and simple execution of play (Western Style) can challenge the conventional local way. The Lady Falcons may find their Final Four dreams bleak, but in anticipation of season 80, they can improve more on their physicality as they are plainly outmuscled by other teams in terms of attack. It is of no doubt that Coach Airess Pada will also be hell bent in improving the team’s consistency in technical execution as well as discipline in basic fundamentals.
University of the East Lady Warriors: 1-9
With a significantly taller lineup, Coach Francis Vicente’s squad has been dominating the defense above the net. Being the 2nd best blocking team in the league to date, the Lady Warriors have spelled intimidation to the spikers of their opponents. Despite the impressive blocking stat though, the team has also struggled to tally a win due to the lack of synergy between its defensive and offensive output. High passing and digging from the floor can definitely aid their tall setter Roselle Baliton in perfectly squaring into the net to compensate for her relatively slower footwork. With her built however, she can be capable of going for fast shoot sets to the wings which UE can definitely try to consider as their offensive strategy for Season 80.
Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws: 5-5
The FEU Lady Tamaraws have been consistently at the upper half in terms of non-scoring skills such as floor defense and setting. While their passing and floor defense will be able to hold their ground against good attacking teams like NU and UP, Bernadette Pons and Remy Palma would need more fire power support in order for the team to exact their revenge against their traditional rivals, the UST Tigresses who are top of the pack in terms of digging. In line with that, the added fire power would also be beneficial in circumventing to block off UE to ensure their repeat win over the Lady Warriors.
University of the Philippines Lady Maroons: 6-5
After an impressive 4-0 run in the first round, the Lady Maroons have struggled in solidifying their Final Four pursuit after a series of losses towards the end of the first round. UP has definitely been stable at the middle of the pack in terms of floor defense and setting. While their reception has been reliable in most of their matches, the team has yet to be more consistent in their transition defense and counterattack coming off digs. In line with that, while it is undisputed that the team has an arsenal of talented spikers, the team has been besieged in fortifying their net defense. UP’s blocking will be of crucial importance as their remaining games (NU, UST, FEU) will be the determining factor for their final four appearance.
University of Sto. Tomas Tigresses: 6-4
After a slow start in the first round, the Tigresses have been gaining that much needed momentum to ensure their come back into the semi-finals. What has worked for UST in gaining their momentum has been their impeccable transition defense as evidenced by their lead in the digging category. With heavy hitters like Cherry Rondina and EJ Laure, the Tigresses can ensure a kill as long as they are able to prop up the ball coming off opponent attacks. The team however would need to be more aggressive in their serving to aid their lagging blocking performance. Disrupting their opponent’s attack through aggressive serving would definitely supplement not only their block but their already commendable floor defense. That boost in net defense would be highly beneficial in containing the heavy hitters of UP, NU, DLSU and FEU.
National University Lady Bulldogs: 7-4
After a major win against the Ateneo Lady Eagles in their most recent outing, the NU Lady Bulldogs slightly edged out their other final four contenders in UST, UP, and FEU. Despite a not so commendable win over the Lady Warriors due to subpar passing and floor defense, the Lady Bulldogs have found an opportunity in maximizing Jaja Santiago’s back row play. Technically, the Lady Bulldogs can afford not fielding in a libero since their second middle, Risa Sato, can hold her ground on the floor defense thanks to her impeccable fundamentals. What coach Roger Gorayeb could just work on is their passing formation as well as transition defense positions as there are scenarios when there has been much confusion whether Santiago would defend zone 6 or zone 1 when in the back row. Working on their passing and defense position would definitely be beneficial for the team since it would ensure that Santiago is not only a threat upfront but from the back as well.
De La Salle University Lady Spikers: 8-2
After Ateneo’s recent stump care of the Lady Bulldogs, La Salle’s pursuit to regain top dog spot just got more feasible. Inarguably the most synergized team in the league in terms of connection from the floor, to setting, and to the attack, the Lady Spikers have maintained dominance despite the loss of key players from the previous season. Due to commendable passing and floor defense of libero Dawn Macandili, the Lady Spikers have been able to maximize their major strength which are their middles Majoy Baron and Aduke Ogunsanya. While it is of no doubt that Kim Dy has been providing output from the right wing, La Salle’s dominant wins has been due to high outputs from the middle. To be able to exact their revenge on their rivals, the Lady Spikers can be more aggressive with their serving to exploit the relatively inferior passing of the Lady Eagles.
Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles: 9-2
The Lady Eagle’s uncontested top spot has been finally challenged by their loss to the Lady Bulldogs. In their recent outing, the Lady Bulldogs exploited what has proven to be the Lady Eagle’s struggle for the whole season that is their floor passing. It is of no doubt that the team has the league best setter in Jia Morado, who is so far the only one who can consistently run fast and unpredictable plays comparable to foreign standards. While the team has benefited much from Michelle Morente in boosting their transition defense and counterattacks, they are yet to ensure consistent dominance in their first point conversion. The Lady Eagles are in an urgent need to enhance their passing to ensure that Morado’s setting will be maximized. The team’s passing has been the only missing factor for them to fully dominate the league. If the Lady Eagles are to ensure that La Salle won’t be able to bag top seed coming into the semi-finals, high passing off the net is something to consider when up against tough serving teams. A high pass for the Lady Eagles doesn’t necessarily translate to slowing down their plays since it is the speed of release as well as the flight of the ball that dictate the tempo.