The Hawaii Under 18 team can give Kings Montessori School a run for their money. After all, the visitors took the first set of their preliminary encounter that determined the semifinal seedings for Pool A of the Rebisco Volleyball League 2018 National Finals.
But the NCR champions made it look so easy by defeating the Hawaiians in straight sets to claim the national championship. Here are some factors that helped KMS became the queens of the RVL.
Were the lights too bright for the Hawaiians?
The Hawaii Under 18 team was formed three weeks before the RVL 2018 Nationals. They must have played in championship games before individually. But this is the first time they are doing so collectively. Could it be that the pressure of a gold medal match got into them? They were performing well during the preliminaries and even defeated Bacolod Tay Tung High School in the semifinal.
The talent is there. That’s why it’s uncharacteristic that they only had 12 points and committed 10 unforced errors against KMS in the first set. In contrast, Kings Montessori are accustomed to games like these for they represented NCR in the Palarong Pambansa 2018 and defeated Nazareth School of National University in the Rebisco Volleyball League NCR Finals. Championship matches are nothing new to them.
As a consolation, the Hawaiians got more used to the tension as the sets went by. They scored 20 points in the second and forced an extended set in the third but only to be edged again 26-24. But when nerves got tested, Kings Montessori passed with flying colors while the Hawaii Under 18 has much room for improvement. They could care less if they were giving up inches to their opponents. KMS had the confidence to win and it showed.
Misdirection is the key
The Hawaiians have the size advantage cover the net. How do you counter that? By making them guess what’s coming. This is where KMS setter Louie Romero did a fantastic job in misdirecting the balls to fool the Hawaiian defenders. She read the defensive alignments of their opponents for the majority of the game and made plays accordingly.
While they countered Hawaii’s height with speed, they executed more than just a quick strike from the middle. There are several instances when Lucille May Almonte, Antonette Adolfo, and Rizza Andrea Cruz jumped with the set at the same time to make the Hawaiians consistently puzzled. The squad of Coach Rogelio Getigan won because they were able to hide their intentions while making fast decisions.
Most of the KMS players deliver sharp serves that clears a few inches above the net. The Hawaiians had a hard time adjusting to this kind of service game for they had to play low or dive when the ball suddenly drops. Kings Montessori’s aggressive service game provided reception challenges for Hawaii Under 18 and it manifested in poor first balls. The visitors can dominate if they can activate their powerfuls spikers with great sets. Apparently, they didn’t.
Here’s a tip
KMS knows how powerful the Hawaiian spikers are. But their approach is to always contest their attacks in hopes of either blocking or tipping it. Adolfo, Cruz, and Sunshine Layug challenged the likes of Ella Connor, Madisyn Beirne, and Naniloa Spaar all the time. While they were not able to get much blocks, they had a lot of tips that made it easier for the back line to make a good pass to Romero. That way, Kings Montessori was able to turn what could have been points for Team Hawaii to scoring opportunites for themselves.
Familiarity is family
Collecting talented players does not automatically translate to victories, especially in a team sport like volleyball. It takes a while before teammates’ tendencies become second nature that you start playing as one. Team Hawaii Under 18 showed vast improvement throughout the tournament especially in knowing their roles. It’s just that Kings Montessori has been at it for years and it manifested on how fluid their system works.
KMS only had three unforced errors in the first set while Hawaii had 10. Overall, Hawaii had 30 errors while KMS had 19. That’s an average of 10 free points given per set. Pretty sure the cohesive units of the national champions can compensate for the 15 they needed to win a set. If the Hawaii Under 18 team continue to play together in Aloha region tournaments and come back for next year’s Rebisco Volleyball League, they would more imposing than they are now.