Greenstincts: For the Lady Spikers, there are no moral victories

In the field of economics and decision theory, the concept of loss aversion states that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains or wins. In the context of the UAAP and women’s volleyball, the gravity and resulting misery of Sunday’s five-set loss at the Mall of Asia Arena feels much, much heavier than the sweet euphoria of victory that happened last February 27 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Whether the DLSU Lady Spikers and its coaching staff admit it or not, yesterday’s game versus the two-time defending champion Lady Eagles meant more than avenging their first round loss against the NU Lady Bulldogs on Wednesday. The 21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 15-5 loss not only clinched the number one seed for Ateneo, it also raises doubts and questions on the legitimacy of La Salle’s three-set sweep during the first encounter.

The Lady Spikers’ 37 errors (against Ateneo’s 24) easily stuck out like a sore thumb but coach Ramil de Jesus should also review his tactics and utilization of his bench. After having early success in the attacks courtesy of good combination sets, quick plays, and solid service game, DLSU’s offense and defense malfunctioned and fell silent and ineffective in the deciding set. The Ateneo six easily read which La Salle hitter was getting the ball and the latter could not adjust their game plan late in the game.

After trailing 2 sets to 1, it did seem like the Lady Spikers gave their all in the fourth set to extend the game, and gassed out in the fifth. Only seven players got bulk of the minutes, with rookie Tim Tiamson playing during a period of two points/rallies before going back to the bench. With a deep, talented, and skilled reserve corp, and a long five-set game, coach Ramil should have utilized his other players more.

Mika Reyes could only muster six points, easily getting outplayed by her Lady Eagle counterpart Bea de Leon’s 13. Mika is definitely the taller player between the two middle hitters but with the way she hits the ball with little to no impact, she looked like the smaller, shorter, and less experienced player than the younger de Leon.

In a battle of number one and two teams in terms of blocking and serving (DLSU) and spiking (Ateneo with 40.87% rate), the Lady Eagles neutralized the Lady Spikers’ usual advantage in blocks (9-10) while also keeping up in the service department (6-7), and getting the upper hand in attacks, 55-52. In the first round, not only did La Salle out-attacked Ateneo, 33-29, blocking (7-2) and service aces (13-6) were also crucial in DLSU’s win.

Leader of the band
It has been two season since former team captain Aby Maraño played her last game for La Salle and still nobody has filled her emotional and leadership roles on the team. Aside from Aby’s beast mode, what I really miss is someone talking loudly in between points and barking out instructions in offense and defense.

Ara Galang (last year) and team captain Kim Fajardo are doing their best in most of the elimination round games but the Lady Spikers were awfully quite during several stretches of the second, third and deciding frame; unable to play as one unit, not relying on each other, and misfiring on both ends of the court.

The game against an NU squad fighting for their playoff lives means that Wednesday’s encounter will be as intense as this game. With the number two seed already locked in place, the game may not matter to the Lady Spikers record-wise but will be important for their morale and confidence heading into the Final Four.

Aside from itching to avenge their 16-25, 24-26, 25-14, 23-25 loss from the first round, the Taft-based squad would want to have momentum and regain some swagger as the playoffs start next weekend.

Animo La Salle!