National University (NU) lived another day as it escaped darkhorse University of the East (UE) in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
It was a game of inches.
After a slow start, the Lady Bulldogs played without a defense specialist late in the third set en route to a 25-15, 25-21, 22-25, 25-21 victory.
NU head coach Roger Gorayeb tried to deploy both of his liberos Gayle Valdez and Joni Chavez, but none of them came up with a performance that could satisfy him.
When asked about their performance, the seasoned mentor couldn’t help but shake his head.
Valdez and Chavez obviously failed Gorayeb’s expectations.
The seasoned drillmaster was counting on them to take charge of the Lady Bulldogs’ reception while 6-foot-5 skipper Jaja Santiago, Filipino-Japanese Risa Sato, Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas were assigned to pace the assault.
The absence of his ace liberos was such a crucial gamble for Gorayeb.
He even reminded them how important their roles are.
But they were simply not responding.
“Sabi ko pa nga obligasyon niyo dumipensa ng isang libong beses hindi lang dalawa, tatlong beses dahil yun lang ang trabaho ng libero dumipensa.”
Nonetheless, Gorayeb credited the efforts of his attackers especially his middle hitters for accepting his challenge.
They gave their best shot in order to keep their Final Four hopes alive.
“Mas nanalo pa nga kami ng walang libero eh, lamang pa kami lagi.”
A win is still a win.
He doesn’t want to further hit his wards knowing that it will just add up to their pressure as the tourney enters its homestretch.