The Sta. Lucia Realtors finished in sixth place during the 2017 PSL All-Filipino Conference by winning only two of eight games. They would be relegated to the loser’s pool after suffering defeat against the Cignal HD Spikers, the F2 Logistics Cargo Movers, and the Petron Blaze Spikers.
After which, they enjoyed back-to-back wins against the Cherylume Iron Lady Warriors and the Cocolife Asset Managers. Another loss to F2 brought them to a date with the Blaze Spikers in the quarterfinals. A defeat versus the eventual champions relegated them to the fifth-place match which they lost to the Asset Managers.
Key losses and additions
The Lady Realtors have retained practically the same roster they had during the 2018 PSL Invitational Cup. Jonah Sabete is the only one who departed for she is now playing for the Petro Gazz Angels in the PVL under former Sta. Lucia Head Coach Jerry Yee. Taking her spot is UST Golden Tigresses libero Rica Jane Rivera who will help beef up their floor defense.
Probing the roster
Their line-up is a mixture of battle-hardened veterans and up-and-coming spikers. Middle blocker Mikmik Laborte and setter Rubie De Leon will provide leadership on offense while liberos DM Demontano and Jackielyn Estoquia will set the tone on defense.
The inspiration and wisdom that they provide will give a boost to their talented youngsters. Head Coach George Pascua will still have FEU stand-outs Janette Villareal, Carly Hernandez, and Toni Rose Basas to have a core that is well-versed with his system. Helping Laborte and Villareal defend the net is Roselle Baliton who was once part of the National Team training pool.
Giving De Leon a breather is Filipino-Canadian Rebecca Rivera from the University of Connecticut. They will look to distribute the ball to their middles and their main hitters such as outside hitter Souzan Raslan, former Ateneo Lady Eagle Jhoana Maraguinot, opposite hitter Mar Jane Phillips, and team captain Pamela Lastimosa.
Maraguinot and Phillips will carry much of the offensive load for the Lady Realtors. However, Pascua and his coaching staff should use them in varying attacks because opposing teams will draw a game plan to stop them. Shutting down one of them will cripple the Sta. Lucia offense. In contrast, giving them good sets for scores will help open a scoring party for the other hitters and middles.
The Lady Realtors will also face a height disadvantage against most of the teams that they will face. They can diffuse that obstacle by playing at a quicker pace especially with an athletic player in Phillips and Maraguinot who has been accustomed to a fast tempo under Coach Tai Bundit.
Prediction for PSL All Filipino Cup 2018
I still see the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors in the fifth or sixth place range given that there are no major additions to their squad. That should bode well for team chemistry though on the flip side. But a trip to the semifinals is highly unlikely especially if they struggle to block opponent’s spikes.