DOC VOLLEYBALL: Reclaiming Thrones
AJ Pareja on Apr 12, 2018 01:18 PM
DLSU setter Michelle Cobb can expect consistent approach from her middles for a quick or a slide attack while her primary options are still the left wing and the occasional x-play with opposite Kim Dy.
After finishing the first round in third and fourth place, respectively, much to the worry of their loyal fans, the De La Salle Lady Spikers and the Ateneo Lady Eagles have shown much dominance in the second round to find both themselves back at the top two spots they’ve consistently held in recent UAAP history. After what has been the most unpredictable elimination round thus far, defending champion La Salle has secured their twice-to-beat advantage at the top spot while the Lady Eagles are looking to snatch a second round revenge against their rivals for the remaining twice-to-beat advantage and second place.
Throughout the season, both teams have had a fair share of disheartening losses especially in the first round in which slight doubts have been raised in their title contention.
Likewise, both teams have also had moments in the second round where these doubts were quelled in games where they won emphatically after having their backs against the wall. True enough, with the way both the Lady Spikers and the Lady Eagles have dismantled their competitors in the second round builds, there is more evidence for a repeat encounter for the crown.
During their first round encounter, the Lady Spikers bested their archrivals in a four-set thriller where they proved that defense is the best offense. Outperforming the Lady Eagles in terms of Serve-Receive, Digging, and Blocking, the Lady Spikers were able to hold the Ateneo offensive at bay and converted point after point off the transition. Despite winning the third set by a slim margin, the Lady Eagles were undoubtedy under control of the Lady Spikers for much of the game as their passing was heavily exploited by La Salle’s serving.
This second round encounter would be interesting due to the fact that since their first round encounter, the Lady Eagles, though still not the best passing team in the league, has found ways to compensate for their lack of passing through solid transition defense and offense. Likewise, the Lady Spikers have further fortified their status as the best serving and passing team in the league. For this match, Ateneo’s solid transition play will be pitted against La Salle’s side-out play – two aspects of the game that hold equal importance.
It is of no doubt that what has been the primary factor for the Lady Spikers' dominance this season is their side-out game particularly service, receive, and block. Despite being in the lower end of the tally in terms of attacking, the Lady Spikers have shown that spiking is not the only manner by which to rack in the points. Claiming almost half of the best servers in the league currently, DLSU has been able to either gain quick easy points off aces or disrupt their opponent’s attack enough to fall into their wall setup at the net.
Offensively, the Lady Spikers keep their attack pattern relatively simple. On a good pass, setter Michelle Cobb can expect consistent approach from her middles for a quick or a slide attack while her primary options are still the left wing and the occasional x-play with opposite Kim Dy. What the team lacks and could still benefit highly from is the utilization of more backrow play as it furthers expands the attack option for the team on a broken play.
Despite the passing and digging woes that haunts the Lady Eagles even up until now, they have shown excellence in other skill departments that have more than compensated for what they lack. By relegating power hitter Ponggay Gaston to man the reception, Coach Tai Bundit’s gambit has proven beneficial as the Lady Eagles are relatively not as exploitable in terms of their reception. By fortifying their serve and their block, Ateneo has made sure that they can readily counter attack any opponent whose system is disrupted. In line with that, their solid blocking has emabled them to slow the play down and have higher chances of a better first ball.
In addition to their blocking, what makes the Lady Eagles also excel in transition is their attack pattern in which the back row is highly utilized. Given a good first ball, setter Deanna Wong has a wide set of attack options that can deliver be it from the front or the back.
Closing out the elimination round, it would be in the Lady Spikers’ best interest to keep the passing pressure on the Lady Eagles with their hard and float serve. The challenge would be for La Salle’s serve to be tough enough to completely disrupt Ateneo’s system that they wouldn't be able to even set up a high ball as skipper Jho Maraguinot has shown much proficiency to even drive a hard ball given a broken play.
Likewise, the Lady Spikers should ensure that they can convert every possession immediately as the Lady Eagles are seen to get better at claiming points the further the rally progresses. In addition, utilization of the back row attack could help a lot in lessening the predictability of their offense especially on a broken play where the middles wouldn't be able to approach.
On the other hand, the Lady Eagles would once again be challenged on the receiving end although not as much as easily exploitable compared to the first encounter. Jules Samonte from the right wing will be expected to step up further especially for broken plays to get some steam off the left, which was checked by the La Salle wall previously.
Moreover, being a solid serving team as well, it would be in the Lady Eagles' best interest to be consistent with their serving targets to mitigate Majoy Baron and Aduke Ogunsanya from the middle as was done by FEU in their five-set thriller against La Salle previously.