For my first entry, I would to share some thoughts about the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 79 Women’s Volleyball Tournament.
Yes, I am a huge fan of Volleyball dating back to the FIVB World Grand Prix held in Manila. Needless to say, I was amazed by the sport, the athleticism that is involved, and more importantly, the stories of the athletes and how they persevered and worked hard to hone their talents and skills in Volleyball.
As for the UAAP Volleyball, it was in its 74th Season when I discovered it in one of the local channels. Since then, I became a supporter of the Ateneo de Manila University Women’s Volleyball Team a.k.a Ateneo Lady Eagles (ALE).
I will not dwell so much on the history of the UAAP Volleyball Tournaments in the past, you can look them up in the internet if you’d like to. Wikipedia has a decent accounting of the contest and Youtube has a lot of videos for you to see. Or you can visit this link.
For this season, I must say that this has been one of the most exciting, and many unexpected things happened so far. The tournament is already at the Semi Final Round, and meetings will be between Ateneo (1) vs FEU (4), and DLSU (2), the defending champions, vs UST (3).
It was pretty much expected that Ateneo and DLSU will take the first and second spot. I also predicted UST in the Final Four, but also wanted UP (6) to be there. Unfortunately, after their brilliance was shattered by Ateneo in the first round, they were not able to recover much of their glow to finish a spot for the semis. FEU deserves to be there. I mean, you can see how they have worked so hard in each round. They fought, and fought well. I like their coach too. Shaq Delos Santos is a tactician and a good motivator for his girls.
However lately, I am very much impressed with the UST Tigresses. They have improved so much. They already have powerhouse attackers in Cherry Rondina and EJ Laure, but this time, their teamwork is stronger, and their attitude in the court more stable as manifested by their body language during the game.
I saw their last game against the National University (NU) and here are some of my observations among many:
1. UST Coach Kung Fu Reyes is very different and is more effective this time. He does not hide frustration over their errors, castigates the players for poorly executed sequences and composes the players before coming back to the court after a timeout- i.e, he tells them to breathe deep, and does not stop until he actually sees them breathe deep.
2. The players want to win so bad. Case in point is how EJ Laure shrugs off an ankle twist and stays in the court in tears to play.
I will not be surprised if they will be able to pull an upset and win this year’s championship. Sometimes, all it really takes is to have that heart, that courage, that persistence. In semis going to the finals, statistics will not matter anymore. This was already proven by the Ateneo Lady Eagles way back Season 76 when they won the championship with a team composed mostly of rookies. They were third in the eliminations and defeated the number two seed twice, and the number one seed thrice, in the stepladder finals series.
I am so excited for the matches to resume!