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Lady Spikers pound NU. Nears sweep and finals

De La Salle easily disposed of NU 25-16, 25-11, 25-18 to move within one game of sweeping the elimination round and an outright entry to the finals of the UAAP womens volleyball tournament.

Sounds like a routine 3-set victory by our Lady Spikers. They continued their streak of not dropping a set in the second round, and face #2 Ateneo to end the eliminations. Two years ago, the team was in this same situation, but faltered in their last game to lose out in the finals. However, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a replay of that situation.

What’s impressive about this edition of the Lady Spikers is not their dominance on offense or the players’ individual statistics. Using the Feb 5 official statistics:

  • In terms of scoring, our players aren’t in the top 5. Our top scorer, Marano, is only #9, Cha Cruz is only #11, and Gumabao is only #15
  • In spiking, Marano (#2) and Gumabao (#3) are the only Lady Spikers in the top 10
  • In setting, Esperanza is only #4
  • In serving (our double edged sword), Cruz is #2 and Galang is #3. Our service apparently gets us more points than we give away. At least that’s the idea.
  • In digging, our players’ stats aren’t that gaudy, Cruz (#4) and Marano (#8) are our only placers
  • In receiving, our players do a decent job of getting the ball to the setter, with Gohing, Cruz, and Marano at #5-7
  • It’s in blocking where our players shine, with our frontline composed of Gumabao (#1), Marano (#5), and Reyes (#6) forming a formidable wall at the net

But as a team, the Lady Spikers are:

  • Spiking – #1
  • Blocking – #1
  • Serving – #1
  • Receiving – #2
  • Digging – #4
  • Setting – #4

What the numbers say:

Our offense is very effective, requiring less work for the setter to get us to score. Out of the top 7 setters, Esperanza has the least number of attempts. It means that either she’s pretty effective at setting, or that our spikers are very potent. Or more probably, both
In spiking, the story is the same – the team has taken less total attempts (1,530) than all the other teams except offensively challenged NU and UP, and their success rate is 33.99%, tops in this category. UST follows with 1,861 attempts and a 32.94% success rate, and Ateneo at 1,757 attempts and 31.47%.

In blocking, the team has 2.33 average blocks/set with 98 kill blocks, followed by NU 1.77 / 76 and Ateneo 1.67 / 75. It’s obvious that our net defense is a very potent weapon.

In serving, the Lady Spikers have the most aces (91) and make an average of 2.17 aces per set, but also have the most service faults (144). Happily, the girls have been more stingy in the last few games, refusing to gift the opponents with too many errant serves

In digging, we’re only #4 as a team, probably because less balls get through the net defense, so there are less balls to dig. Only UP (1,541 digs) has less than our team (1,602). In comparison, the other playoff aspirants have: Ateneo-1,914, FEU-2,159, ADU-2,230, UST-1,995. It makes their floor defense look good, but this also highlights that their net defense is more porous.

Our reception efficiency is pretty good, #2 behind Ateneo, but we have the lowest total attempts at 717, probably because the opponents don’t get to serve to us that often. In comparison, we had 979 service attempts. This says that our team dispatches the opponents with a minimum of points (and effort), less sets and less extended points. Also the reason why we’ll probably never have the top individual scorer, because it takes us less points to win, and our attack is so varied and balanced that everyone on the team except the libero gets to score

Probably the greatest strength of the team is their mental toughness and their ability to break any momentum the opponents try to build up. The opponents rarely ever get to string together several points, because the Lady Spikers are able to discern what the opposing team is doing, find a way to blunt the attack, and stop any attempt at an extended scoring run. And they’ve done this with their backs to the wall in the first round against FEU and UST, and have come back to totally defuse any attempt by these teams to compete on even terms.

So far, they haven’t given up a set. Ateneo took a set in the second round. Let’s see if they can manage this again on Sunday.

Notes: We asked some of the Lady Spikers about their thoughts on their upcoming game against Ateneo this Sunday.

Cha Cruz – “We’re just going to play our game with our LaSallian pride and offering it all to God”

Michele Gumabao – “It’s going to be challenging but we know we will do our best. We know we will give it our all and always offer our games to God. I know our opponent will prepare and we will also. 13-0 means we’ve made it so far without a blemish in our record and we are hoping to continue that hard work. Train hard! Be ready for Sunday.”

Abigail Marano – “It’s going to be a blast! I think Ateneo’s really eager to win on Sunday pero mas eager din kaming manalo. Above all else, I think the important thing na magagawa namin in preparation with Sunday’s game is yung composition namin of a well mental-emotional-physical mind set. I believe that we just have to play our game the way we want it to be. Nothing to worry because God will provide is and will surely fight for us. Naniniwala ako na magiging maganda and tagisan nang talento sa linggo. Basta’t maganda ang komposisyon nang teamwork namin at nang pagpapakundisyon namin, sigurao na magiging mahusay ang resulta nang laro namin sa Linggo.”

- Interview by Tin Pe Benito