Greenstincts: Christmas wish list for the Lady Spikers

Puzzled supporters of the DLSU women’s volleyball team can take solace with the fact that even head coach Ramil de Jesus is troubled with the lack of consistent play and energy shown so far by the Lady Spikers. Despite sporting a 5-0 record as the year 2014 comes to a close, one adjective that is lost in the opening five games is dominant.

So called “experts” like to measure a team’s dominance not only by the win-loss records but also in the number of sets lost. To recap Season 76, the Lady Spikers dropped only two sets during the first and second rounds: both 3-1 victories over FEU (Jan 29, 2014) and National U (Feb 15).

This Season 77, the team has already matched last year’s amount of lost sets; a 3-1 opening day victory over the Adamson Lady Falcons and last Wednesday’s 25-16, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22 conquest of a game Lady Tamaraws.

Last year’s finals collapse against eventual champion Ateneo Lady Eagles showed how peaking at the right time and when to be dominant matter more than sweeping the elimination rounds.

Remember that Animo > Heart. Enough said, Animo La Salle!

Despite having one of the most potent lineup on paper, the type of lackadaisical play so far, give thoughts to question whether the girls have enough mental toughness to overcome last year’s nightmare.

This season will be more of a test of fortitude than any redemption mission. It’s bad enough that the team’s heart, soul and biggest voice in the person of Aby Maraño has already graduated, but whatever nastiness, swag and beast mode the team had, seemed to have left together with the former team captain.

Aside from the wanting someone to revive or carry the torch of being in beast mode, here are a few of my other Christmas wishes for the eight-time UAAP women’s volley champion:

Variety on offense. It’s not just an Ara Galang show. In fact, during the first set of the game against FEU, star setter Kim Fajardo first went outside to Cyd Demecillo, then Mika Reyes for a quick middle hit, before Galang killed the rally with an attack from the back row. Keep the opposing defense guessing and keep trusting that players will contribute whenever their numbers are called.

Deaf ears to the haters, detractors and critics. It’s very easy to jump on the bandwagon when everything is well. Though they do not enter the season as the defending champions, being one of the marque teams in the league ensure that La Salle will always have a big target on their back: opposing teams, hecklers and critics alike.

Return of the Green Wall. The numbers with regards to La Salle’s blocking from the first game to the third was on a downward trend: 14 against Adamson, 9 (NU) and 7 (UST) before getting a slightly better production on defense against UP (8) and FEU (10). If Reyes senses that the middle attack is not working for her then she should make it up by scoring on the defensive side.

As the anchor of the Lady Spikers’ defense, I hope that last Wednesday’s seven block output en route to 17 points is just the start of things to come for DLSU’s number one middle hitter.

Use of the bench. Aside from the opening game, coach Ramil has used the same starting six of Ara, Cyd, Kim Fajardo, Mika, Desiree Cheng, Kim Dy and libero Dawn Macandili. While I do appreciate de Jesus’ belief in consistency and trust in his players, there are times when substituting Cheng and Dy, both second-year players in lieu of Camille Cruz and rookie Christine Soyud can give the team a spark off the bench.

Riding the starters hard on each and every elimination games might prove detrimental when the post season comes along.

Remember that Animo > Heart. Enough said, Animo La Salle!