AJ Pareja on Feb 27, 2019 10:00 AM
The DLSU Lady Spikers overcame the Ateneo Lady Eagles' offensive and defensive play on the net and then exploited the Adamson Lady Falcons' poor translation from floor to attack.

Tempering the Bow

With an early immaculate lead to kick off the UAAP Season 81 Women's Volleyball tournament, the De La Salle University Lady Spikers are poised to defend their crown convincingly amidst a pool of contenders who have upped their game from the previous season. Having subdued the PVL Open Conference finalists, the Ateneo Lady Eagles, and the PVL Collegiate Conference elimination round frontrunners, the Adamson Lady Falcons, in their first two games, the Lady Spikers have shown that they have no chink in the armor despite losing outstanding key players in Dawn Macandili, Majoy Baron, and Kim Dy. Albeit being shrouded in mystery during the highly competitive pre-season, the defending champions are starting to prove once again that battle experience can be trumped by intensive focus on fundamentals development especially under a long standing training and conditioning system.

Despite missing much action in the pre-season compared to the other contenders, the Lady Spikers are showing early on that having remarkably uniform fundamentals produces synchronization more than battle experience. Head coach Ramil De Jesus’ approach to a highly “periodized” training system in which a hefty amount of time is invested into fundamentals development during the pre-season has proven effective for decades now in the UAAP. While going under the radar and avoiding scouting is just an added bonus for not joining the pre-season fiasco, De Jesus’ approach ensures that the team works on a consistent pace early on and peak at the right moment towards the end of every UAAP season. The time investment in skills and basics development ensures that whoever is brought inside the court works seamlessly within a tried and tested system. Regardless of rookies who come and veterans who go, the Lady Spikers' periodic training system has proven itself dominant throughout UAAP history. Though tactics and strategies have evolved in recent history, it is undeniable that from Manilla Santos to Des Cheng, Chi Saet to Michelle Cobb, Maureen Penetrante-Ouano to Majoy Baron, Shermaine Penano to Dawn Macandili, and so on, the DLSU Lady Spikers are the most uniform team biomechanically through the years.

Sniping the weak spot


AdMU Lady Eagles

DLSU Lady Spikers


28 pts

40 pts


8 pts

4 pts

Serve (aces)



Team Error



Reception percentage



Set (excellent)



Fig 1. Game Stats ADMU vs DLSU 02/17/2019

Boasting of triple towers in Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon, and Tolentino, the Ateneo Lady Eagles are considered to be the most threatening team in terms of offensive and defensive play on the net. Continuing from their PVL Open Conference dominance in the blocking department, the Lady Eagles undoubtedly will pose a significant concern for teams with heavy reliance on the left wing as main offensive option. While the defense from above the net is something the Lady Eagles can claim dominance this season, the same cannot be said about the floor defense that has been a concern from past seasons. Much like the scenario in the PVL Open Conference, Ateneo undoubtedly has the league’s most threatening middle attackers severely impaired by sub-par first ball delivery.

The Lady Spikers had no second thoughts in sniping at the glaringly exposed weakness of the Lady Eagles. Only rivaled by their eventual finals contenders, the FEU Lady Tamaraws, last season in the service department, the defending champs showed that they are as equally deadly from the service line this season. Cobb and company locked on Ateneo’s open hitters Ponggay Gaston and Vanessa Gandler and dropped aces and shanks severely limiting attempts from the middle and exposing Kat Tolentino as the only viable option from the high right. Despite being the most perfect fit in the opposite position in recent UAAP history with her tenacity in the front and back row, Kat Tolentino was heavily guarded as evidence by Cheng contributing 50% of won blocks for DLSU.

Offensively, rookie revelation Jolina Dela Cruz ensured that the triple tower block covering the left won’t be much of a concern for Cobb. Dela Cruz went for predominantly sharp cross attacks to ensure that Ateneo’s right side is scrambling for the defense. As such, should Tolentino be set, the footwork has been already delayed making it easier for the block to establish and if not, the Lady Spikers would have an easier time blocking the open hitters who struggled the entire game to find their hitting range.

Despite not having the famed “Taft Wall" the Lady Spikers have been known for, the service strategy of De Jesus once again proved to be enough to dismantle a tough opponent.

Easy Target


AdU Lady Falcons

DLSU Lady Spikers


29 pts

43 pts


5 pts

2 pts

Serve (aces)



Team Error



Reception percentage



Set (excellent)



Fig 2. Game Stats AdU vs DLSU 02/23/2019

Last season’s most memorable upset was when the combined efforts of Mylene Paat and Eli Soyud broke the Taft Wall to pieces and left the Lady Spikers scrambling for defense.

That is not the case this time around.

Despite boasting of a serious contender for this season’s best libero in Tonnie Rose Ponce, the Air Padda-led squad was nowhere near the level of tenacity the team showed in their trouncing of the Lady Spikers last season. The Lady Falcons basically handed the Lady Spikers this game with poor translation from floor to attack, making it possible for La Salle to score effortless points.

Limiting the Lady Spikers to just one service ace in the entire game is already a massive feat to boast of. Ponce’s 44% passing efficiency against the league’s top serving team is already a weapon for Adamson that they failed to draw strength from. Having more than twice the block kills against a well known good blocking team is also highly commendable on the part of Adamson.

The glaring difference for both teams however was the transition to the attack care of both team’s setters. The measly combined efforts of Adamson’s Yandoc and Igao at only 17 sets against Cobb’s solo 25 excellent sets thrown was the only notable reason why the Lady Falcons didn’t pull off the feat from last season.

Against a tall good blocking team, the Lady Falcons were clearly going for fast shoot plays to the wings to draw an opening in the net defense of DLSU.

Unfortunately for Adamson, no connection was established between setter and spiker as hitters were severely off with their timing and the sets were either too tight, low, or far from the net.

On the other hand, Cobb was just bank on setting consistency as well as activating the middles from the middle to late game with much thanks to reliable floor defense by libero Saga.

Both teams undoubtedly were at par in passing and floor defense but it was in the transition from the floor to the offensive where Adamson shot themselves on the foot and handed the defending champions a silver platter.


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