Pushed into a “sink or swim” situation after Wednesday’s four-set loss to the NU Lady Bulldogs, the DLSU Lady Spikers went back to their core identities and strengths – defense and blocking – to bounce back against the hapless Adamson Lady Falcons.
The 16-25, 24-26, 25-14, 23-25 loss against the Lady Bulldogs, NU’s first ever elimination round win against La Salle, raised some questions about the team’s lack of on-court leadership, intensity, and performance and even getting intimidated against the equally tall NU team.
Aside from getting outscored 46-42 in attacks and allowing 16 points each to the trio of Jaja Santiago, Myla Pablo, and Jorelle Singh, DLSU committed a season-high 31 errors, and even appeared tense and unsure at the end of the pivotal fourth set. The Lady Spikers were comfortably up 20-15, and seemingly on their way to forcing a fifth and deciding set when NU unleashed their finishing kick and handed La Salle its first loss in Season 78.
Mary Joy Baron was the lone bright spot with 19 points, eight coming off blocks. Despite tallying 39 excellent sets, coach Ramil de Jesus singled out fifth-year setter and team captain Kim Fajardo for failing to make a more pronounced impact on the outcome of the game, and for not leading her team in the crucial moments.
The eight-time UAAP volleyball champions had a better showing against Adamson yesterday; displaying a quicker, sharper, and more intense effort in a three-set sweep, 25-13, 25-13, 25-16. Service and blocking were DLSU’s main weapons of choice, acing 14 serves against AdU’s two and out-blocking the Lady Falcons, 10-2.
So effective and disruptive was the great Green Wall that the Lady Spikers were able to limit the league’s best spiker (percentage-wise) and number four scorer Jessica Galanza to six measly points, and did not allow any Lady Falcon to finish in double figures. With La Salle dominating the first two sets, coach Ramil even had the luxury of fielding his bench players for most of the third set.
Sophomore Kim Dy (five points) and Season 73 Rookie of the Year Mika Esperanza heard their numbers called for the first time this season, while rookie May Luna gave quality minutes and displayed an array of impressive offensive moves to finish with eight points.
One dimensional offense
As efficient as La Salle was in the one hour, four minute redemption match against Adamson, the Green and White offense still needs some improvement especially in trying to be less predictable in their patterns and sets. Combination plays, decoy sets, running attacks, drop shots and even back row attacks are missing in the team’s playbook this season; offensive sets and plays that would have helped in preventing that shocking loss to National U.
So predictable was the Lady Spikers’ play calls that the Lady Falcon’s floor defense were ready for the attacks from Ara Galang, Carol Cerveza, and Mika Reyes. DLSU, though was fortunate that the Fajardo-Baron quick hit connection was working well and the Adamson six could not generate enough offense from their end. Fajardo, even took matters in her own hands by scoring nine points including a surprising spike off a Mika Reyes set in the second frame that gave the Lady Spikers a 22-13 lead.
The team takes an eight-day break before facing the winless (as of writing) UE Lady Warriors and another six days before the league’s most anticipated match-up against the Ateneo Lady Eagles in February 27. It’s enough time for players to recuperate injuries (Cyd Demecillo, shin), improve their offensive sets and tactics, and be mentally and psychologically ready versus the two-time defending UAAP champions.
Animo La Salle!