Lady Spikers unlikely to repeat last season’s collapse

The Lady Spikers are officially at 12-1 (really 13-0). With 3 losses (to La Salle in straight sets, to Ateneo also in straight sets, and to UP in 5 sets), UST is at 10-3 and cannot catch us no matter what the result of Sunday’s game is. With one play date left, the blue bird universities are currently tied at 8-5, and the loser of Sunday’s game gets the pleasure of facing the Lady Spikers in the final 4. NU and FEU are tied at 4-9, while UP and UE bring up the rear at 3-10. Interestingly, the tail enders both have a victory over a final 4 team: UE over Ateneo (their win over us was on paper), and UP over UST.

This season is practically a replay of last year upto this point. The Lady Spikers has won all its games on the court, while UST has a few losses on its slate. Remember that last year, UST found a way to beat La Salle in the last game of the eliminations, and that continued when they met in the finals. However, this edition of the Lady Spikers seems to be more mature and complete than last year’s team. They’re definitely more confident, and very little has rattled them so far – they’ve actually lost only 2 sets on the court in the entire tournament (all in the first round when they seemed to lose interest after leading by 2 sets and allowed the opponents Ateneo and FEU to steal a set each). Their dominance has been fuelled by their effectiveness and efficiency – they’ve only played 41 sets so far, and although the official tally is 36 sets won and 5 lost, the real score is 39 and 2. In contrast, UST has won 32 sets and lost 17, Ateneo has 29 and 16, and Adamson has 28 and 21.

UST looms as the probable other finalist, but they have been inconsistent. After sweeping Adamson in straight sets last week, they were extended yesterday by a much weaker FEU team. What’s food for thought for UST is that if they had lost yesterday’s game, they could have ended up tied with the winner of the Ateneo-Adamson game with a 9-5 record assuming we win on Sunday. UST remains to be a strong team despite the departure of Tabaquero, Santiago and their libero, but their inconsistent play has to be worrying for their coaches.

While there have been some fears that the Lady Spikers may have peaked too early, indications are that they are still improving. For example, while the blocking has remained to be one of their biggest weapons, the floor defense has noticeably picked up. Their conditioning has not even tested yet, and the team is still fresh from so many straight set wins. No matter who is in the back line, the Lady Spikers always have threats at the net in terms of blocking and spiking.

This Sunday’s game, while no-bearing, will be very interesting, as it might just be a preview of the finals.

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