I thought our floor defense was better than it was against UST in that second round loss. However, it was in the blocking where our team was not so consistent. Although we did have our share of offensive blocks (against Santiago whose quick plays were blocked a number of times, Banaticla who was blocked on successive plays), the defensive wall put up by our net blockers was not as solid due to the variety of sets employed by UST. Recognizing that our net defenders are very effective in close quarters, Dimaculangan would set up her spikers a foot or two away from the net, and this gave them better angles to target gaps or avoid our blockers.
Carmel Garbin showed that she is a worthy successor to Kaye when Kaye plays our her eligibility, but her lack of match play showed. Yup, Joanne was not able to score too much on blocks. The players will also have to improve communication and teamwork, particularly since UST likes to target the gap between the back line defenders, and the players sometimes pause or hesitate in retrieving the ball because a teammate is close by. This hesitancy cost us several points, particularly in the 4th set when we had a chance to rally at 19-21, and we dropped 2 consecutive points because of this type of error.
Our service reception also was not as good, and the first touches were not in the optional position for our setter to easily set up our spikers. Consequently, the spikes were not as forceful or controlled as usual, enabling the taller UST net defenders to partially block or slow the spikes for the UST floor defense to retrieve. Mercado was able to vary her hits between powerful kills and floaters, but Marano and Alarca were not able to consistently deliver on their quick sets or running spikes.
The Lady Spikers were noticeably a bit tense in comparison to the UST players. Perhaps the pressure of defending the crown is contributing to the tension. Our players just have to relax and play the game the way we know they can, loose and flowing, their attacks varied and unpredictable, solid blocking at the net with quick movement to get the right position, our back line defense on their toes to get to the right place to receive the ball, and the team as a whole should be able to read the plays of UST while forcing UST to react to their game instead of the other way around. UST has the momentum and is confident, but our team has what it takes to upend the opponents. They just have to remember that they have already done it to this team.