While La Salle is basking in glory after a masterful conquest of a prized Thai club in Est Cola in a friendly match, Ateneo de Manila is working hard, sharpening its defensive knife that will throw its bitter rival off its comfort zone.
The Lady Eagles will be putting special premium on defense and reception when they clash with the Lady Spikers in the second round of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ateneo assistant coach Parley Tupaz said they will hand libero Gizelle Tan the lion’s share of the defensive chore in a bid to have a solid reception and steady presence on defense.
Reception was the main suspect in Ateneo’s straight-set loss to La Salle in the first round. With libero Jamie Lavitoria struggling to make her presence felt, the Lady Eagles were miserable on the first ball that made it extremely difficult for them to execute.
[quote cite=’Parley Tupaz, assistant coach (Ateneo)’]”We need to have good reception to at least stand a chance against a solid team like La Salle. We will designate Gizelle Tan to be our main libero since she is more agile and has great court vision.”[/quote]
[quote]”The key to winning is to have a good receive. If we can have it, everything else will follow.”[/quote]
Tupaz is a former national team member who is serving as deputy to Thai coach Anusorn Bundit.
Ateneo misses defensive stars
Tupaz said they are missing the defensive brilliance of Ella de Jesus, Denise Lazaro and Michelle Morente.
De Jesus and Lazaro left for graduation while Morente is sitting out the season due to academic deficiency.
[quote]”Losing them is a big blow to us defensively. “[/quote]
[quote]”Last year, we had an easy time executing because our floor defense and reception were solid. We have to bring back that defensive intensity against La Salle if we want to go far. But the girls are ready. I’m sure they will rise to the challenge.”[/quote]
Aside from the backline defense, Tupaz also said Amy Ahomiro will again play a key role in threatening La Salle’s attackers as she continues to fill the void left in the middle by injured blocker Maddie Madayag.
Nothing to worry
Tupaz stressed that everything remains under control despite losing their first match.
In fact, he compares their rivalry with La Salle to two prizefighters eager to go for the knockout punch.
[quote]”We’re not worried; this is just the eliminations. We’re still pacing and trying to figure out how to gain advantage over each other.”[/quote]
[quote]”We are optimistic that we will still meet at the finals. That’s the real war; that’s the time when we stop throwing jabs and unleash heavy punches and knockout blows.”[/quote]
And in the end, only one team will remain standing.