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Lady Eagles vs. Lady Spikers 2014-15 Rd 1: Survival Kit



The most anticipated game of the season has arrived. The archrivalry will again be flaunted on Sunday as the defending champions Ateneo take on La Salle to end the first round of eliminations. It’s been 10 months since the Lady Eagles won their first championship against the Lady Spikers, after battling it out in the last three finals series, and we are going to see a vindictive La Salle seeking to avenge their loss. So far, both teams are still undefeated in the season and will duke it out to see who will come out on top.

This will be an interesting matchup because this will be the first time Ateneo will be facing La Salle as defending champions. In fact, in the last 21 head-to-heads between the two schools (from Season 71), Ateneo has only won a total of four games, all of them in the finals (Game 1 in Season 74, and last season’s finals series). La Salle has been a consistent contender for a long time, and with Ateneo’s rise up in the ladders the past few seasons, this season’s competitive spirit will be on another level.

TeamWLPointsSet RatioPts Ratio
La Salle50157.5001.252


We will be evaluating the two teams based on their performance in each volleyball skill.
Note: we only used the first five matches of each team (we ignored the DLSU-UE game last Sunday since Ateneo has yet to battle UE).

Serving & Passing

Volleyball play begins with the serve. As the first ball contact, the serve dictates the tempo of the game. A very good server can force the other team to scramble for a play and keep them out of rhythm throughout the rally. After five matches, La Salle leads the service department with a total of 40 aces (half of these from Ara Galang and Kim Fajardo), while Ateneo is 4th with 31. Despite this, La Salle commits more service faults, making Ateneo a more efficient serving team. However, more aces and faults in a team can mean that the team is being very aggressive on the serve – they are taking more risks to make it difficult for the opponent to run its offense. If La Salle minimizes its errors, their serving game can be tough for Ateneo.

ServiceAteneoLa Salle
Skill rank41
Aces / set1.822.35
Faults / set1.472.00
% good93.7%91.9%
% ace7.8%9.6%


On the flipside, Ateneo is the league’s best passer, with a passing efficiency of 31.8%, almost doubling La Salle’s 18.0%. Lazaro and De Jesus, who receive the ball 77.5% of the time for Ateneo, have a combined passing efficiency of 35.5%. La Salle’s main passers – Galang, Macandili and Cheng – have a passing efficiency of only 17.3%. Ateneo’s system banks on their ability to receive the ball well so that they can set up their offensive strategies. If Ateneo can get their passing early, they will be able to handle the first-ball offense of La Salle.

Serving: La Salle
Passing: Ateneo


The setter is considered to be the most important position in volleyball (ask coaches and volleyball aficionados). Setters are the ones who direct the team’s offense by calling out plays. The team’s offensive system is only as good as the setter’s performance because a spiker can only hit the ball effectively if it is set properly. Last season, rookie Julia Morado proved to be worthy of the #12 jersey of Ateneo when she replaced Jem Ferrer, former three-time UAAP Best Setter. She is now the league’s leading setter with a total of 171 assists in five games. La Salle’s Kim Fajardo, last season’s best setter, is at second place with 140 assists.

SettingAteneoLa Salle
Skill rank12
Assists / set10.18.5
Offensive Eff%77.4%72.1%


Morado’s performance can be attributed to her team’s steady passin­g. The purpose of setting the ball is to successfully execute an attack that maximizes the team’s chance of getting a point. An excellent set or assist is counted when the point awarded to the attacking team is from an “in-system” play. Being “in-system” means the team can control the ball well and can give it to the setter accordingly. It is important for the team to be “in-system” if they want to use all their offensive options and to run a fast offense. So far, Ateneo leads in this aspect, with 77.4% of their attacks coming from “in-system” plays, while La Salle is at 72.1% – both teams are above the league average of 64.2%.

Setting: Ateneo


This skill is the most recognizable in volleyball as this is the offensive arm of the sport. So far, Ateneo leads in this skill, with an attack efficiency of 24% (attack attempts converted to points 24% of the time), La Salle coming close second at 21.2%. Alyssa Valdez, so far the best scorer in the league, leads in attacks with 88 of her 106 points from spikes while La Salle’s best scorer Ara Galang has 82 spikes so far. Don’t forget that spiking a ball needs more than just speed and athleticism – more often than not, good passing and setting will lead to a successful attack. Ateneo and La Salle are both very efficient in attacking (vs league average) because their passing and setting have been superb.

AttackingAteneoLa Salle
Skill rank12
Attack Eff%24.0%21.2%
In Play Eff%85.9%89.2%


Remember also that volleyball is a rally point system, so all opportunities for scoring a point must not be wasted. Attack errors such as hitting the ball into the net or out of bounds are crucial especially when they pile up. In this regard, La Salle’s in-play efficiency is higher at 89.2% vs Ateneo’s 85.9%, which means they are less likely to commit attack errors during the rally. Both teams seem to be dominant and effective in this skill.

Attacking: Tie

Blocking & Digging

The primary defensive stops for volleyball are blocking and digging. The first line of defense is blocking, and if the ball is sent over/through the block, the team must be prepared to dig it. One of La Salle’s cornerstones is blocking, and they are milking it this season with the tallest lineup in the league (average height of their first six is 5’9” vs Ateneo’s 5’7”). They are also able to rebound the ball off of their opponents’ attacks 34.3% of the time, slowing down their offenses. They also have the highest block kills in the league, currently at 2.82 per set.

AttackingAteneoLa Salle
Kill Block%5.9%7.3%


Digging is a forte of Ateneo, currently 2nd in the league with 8.88 digs per set, followed by La Salle’s 8.65 digs per set. Denden Lazaro, last year’s best digger, has now shared defensive responsibilities with her teammates – she averages 2.47 digs per set vs last season’s 3.38. This team effort enabled Ateneo to dig their opponents’ attacks 82% of the time, while La Salle is at 73%. In defense, La Salle and Ateneo take one skill each.

Blocking: La Salle
Digging: Ateneo

Who will prevail?

Considering all skills, both teams look good on paper – they seem to be cancelling out on all offense vs defense corners. Observers have said that Ateneo plays like an ‘Asian’ team because their sets are faster and lower than usual sets so as to execute their plays quicker. The low-fast system is a trademark of Asian volleyball teams like Japan and Thailand – quicker attacks in all options (left-wing, right-wing, middle) are effective against taller teams who can easily block slower offenses. After last season’s loss, La Salle seems to be moving much faster than before – they’ve adjusted the rhythm of their plays to run a quicker system. It will be interesting to see how these two will battle it out on speed. Note that low-fast setting will only work if a team is in-system – they can give the ball where the setter wants it so she has all the options.

Individually, Ara Galang and Alyssa Valdez, whose efforts comprise 1/3 of the teams’ numbers, will surely play their part and put out big numbers in all aspects – they are both consistent not just in offense but also in defensive measures such as blocking and digging. The question now is who will have a stronger support system? Volleyball is a team sport that plays with six players on court – whoever has the better five players will have an easier time winning the game. Finally, the team that can limit their unforced errors (especially serving and attacking errors) will also come out on top.

Ateneo and La Salle’s rivalry is not just about the schools’ alumni and their history – this rivalry has always brought out the best in each other. Both team’s fierce competitiveness in all things sports have brought the game of collegiate volleyball to new heights. Whatever the outcome might be on Sunday, we will surely be in for an exciting match.

  • Eugene D.

    I suggest you use a new metric to evaluate offensive effectiveness.

    hitting percentage = (points – errors) / attempts

    attacks: points scored off attacks
    errors: out balls, net balls, blocks that result in an opponent’s point
    attempts: total attack attempts

  • VolleyMetricsPH

    @ Eugene D.
    The attack efficiency above is = (kills-errors)/attempts. So that’s what you were looking for.


Raymond Almazan ejected in return



Photo by PBA Images

It was supposed to be a redemption game for Raymond Almazan after he was benched last Wednesday for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters against the Phoenix Fuel Masters, for disciplinary reasons. But unfortunately, it went the the other way around.

The six-foot-eight center was ejected in the Elasto Painters’ match versus Kia Picanto on Friday evening at the Cuneta Astrodome, following a near-brawl that took place between him and opposing big man Eric Camson.

The incident took place with 3:01 remaining in the second quarter, with the Picanto ahead 34-31. Almazan and Camson were both inside the paint looking for position to grab the missed three-pointer of Jeremy King.

Things then went chippy afterwards, as Camson elbowed Almazan. It did not sit well with the latter and he retaliated, leading to the near-brawl that saw both players swing their arms at each other.

Almazan and Camson had to be separated by their teammates and officials. Moments later, both of them were whistled for a flagrant foul penalty two and were ordered to leave the playing court for good.

Almazan finished with six points and three rebounds in six minutes and 10 seconds of action, while Camson exited the bout with 10 markers, five rebounds, and four assists in over 16 minutes of playing time.

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Fired-up Von Pessumal on Kiefer Ravena incident: ‘I’m not here to make any friends’



Will bridges be burned?

Von Pessumal was heavily-scrutinized Friday evening after an incident with fellow Ateneo lifer Kiefer Ravena.

It took place with 9:50 left in the final frame of the San Miguel Beermen’s highly-charged tilt against the NLEX Road Warriors. After Marcio Lassiter launched a trey, Pessumal looked like he was aiming for the rebound. Instead, he simply charged towards Ravena and pushed him down.

Lassiter’s three-pointer counted, while Pessumal, who was blocked by Ravena in a fastbreak and then received a staredown moments prior, was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul.

It was a surprising sight to see considering the amount of time he and Ravena have spent together — a bond that started ever since they were in high school. Even the second-generation star admitted that he did not expect that from his former running buddy.

“I did not expect that at all,” said the NLEX rookie.

But Pessumal downplayed such incident despite attempts by scribes to make him elaborate what had really transpired during that moment.

“It’s part of the game. It’s part of the game,” the league sophomore said after the match which they won 109-98. “I don’t wanna say anything, I’m sorry.

“It’s part of the game. Whatever move on. Not a big deal.”

Asked if he was motivated to face Ravena, whom he had shared three UAAP juniors titles, two UAAP seniors crowns, and a SEA Games gold medal with, the 24-year-old shared that he approached Friday’s bout the way he usually does.

“I wouldn’t say motivated [versus Kiefer], I mean, it’s just like any other game. When I play, I don’t see who’s guarding me, I just play,” said the 6-foot-2 swingman.

“I play to win all the time.”

The incident he and Ravena figured in shadowed his performance of 10 points on 50 percent shooting off the bench — the second time he had scored in double figures this season. After Friday, Pessumal is averaging 8.25 points.

“We have to sustain the level of excellence that they (starters) have. Our job is — I wouldn’t say support, but — when we get in, we should bring the level higher so when they come back, the game is easier for them,” he said.

Pessumal was then asked if he and Ravena met each other after the buzzer sounded as the two did not even shake hands after the contest. But, through a short yet strong response, the 24-year-old said that they did not.

“I wouldn’t say anything. I don’t know, after the game?,” he expressed.

“I’m a professional basketball player, I’m not here to make any friends.”

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Yeng Guiao denies using racial slur against Chris Ross



During the post-game of the San Miguel Beermen’s victory over the NLEX Road Warriors, reigning Coach of the Year Leo Austria said that NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao had called Chris Ross the “N” word, which had caused the commotion.

According to Chris, tinawagan siya ng nigger or ganiyan,” said Austria. “I don’t know but that’s what he explained to me because I confronted Chris Ross because he’s one of the most important players in my team.

“But that’s the thing he doesn’t want to hear so nag-flare up yung bata so I cannot blame him.”

However, Guiao denied that he blurted out racial slurs against San Miguel’s Chris Ross.

“Hindi. Hindi ko tinawag na N-word. Ewan ko kung may nakarinig. Pero hindi,” clarified the fiery tactician moments after their 98-109 defeat, their third straight after starting the 2018 Philippine Cup with two straight wins.

That tussle, according to Guiao, was just filled with trash talking against each other, as he had felt the need to retaliate. In fact, Guiao was even caught by the TV camera saying “son of a bitch” towards the Filipino-American point guard.

“Daldal siya ng daldal eh. Eh sa akin naman kapag ganon, siguro respeto nalang. Lumayo ka nalang tutal mananalo naman na kayo,” he said. “I didn’t understand what he was saying, what he was talking about.

“Nakipagtrash-talking din ako sa kanya.”

Furthermore, the 58-year-old was also caught by the cameras flipping the bird — in one quick motion — also directed at Ross.

“Oo. Kasama na rin yun.

“Pero ano naman eh, it’s part of, siguro, psychological warfare. Malakas din siya mang-asar. Hindi lang naman sa amin. Everytime naman na mga ganoong skirmishes, he also knows what he’s capable of,” the seven-time champion coach furthered.

But more than this scuffle, it has been a stressful time for Guiao and the Road Warriors. They have now gone down to 2-3 in the team standings, and the mentor sees an urgent need to end this slump immediately.

“We have to arrest it very soon. Ang susunod na laro namin ay versus Rain or Shine sa Friday. So we need to go back to 50 percent win-loss level para at least may chance ka na maka-playoffs. That’s going to be a crucial game for us,” he stressed.

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Kiefer Ravena shocked with Von Pessumal’s shove: ‘I did not expect that at all’



Kiefer Ravena and Von Pessumal have been teammates ever since they were in high school, winning three UAAP juniors crowns together. They won two championships together in the seniors level and even played together in Gilas. They were inseparable.

Friday evening however, they were playing for separate camps.

Ravena admitted that he never expected a shove to come from Pessumal during the NLEX Road Warriors’ clash with San Miguel Beermen.

In an off-ball situation, Pessumal charged at Ravena, sending the rookie down to the floor with 9:50 remaining in the final frame. He was then whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul, and Ravena sank one from the line.

“I did not expect that at all,” admitted Ravena after the match in which they lost, 98-109 — their third straight defeat after a 2-0 start. “But hopefully Von doesn’t take it personal.

“I’m just doing my job. They won the game.”

Ravena insisted that there wasn’t any physicality between him and Pessumal prior to that, but he thinks that his former Gilas teammate may have gotten irked by his staredown after blocking him on a fastbreak play early in the fourth.

“When that fastbreak happened — the same exact possession na I challenged him, I looked at him, and after that yun na yung nangyari,” said the 23-year-old guard. “But I never instigated something to provoke Von to do that.

“Probably nung tinignan ko siya.”

Moreover, the second overall pick of the 2017 PBA Rookie Draft felt that that incident “started all the commotions during the end game (laughs). Yun yung pinaka-una eh. And with that, the team got fired up and it worked for them.”

He may be right, for the game saw more skirmishes after that: from teammate Michael Miranda kicking Chris Ross to the groin, and with his head coach Yeng Guiao figuring in a heated verbal war also against Ross.

But then, Ravena made it clear that it was never a plan of his to put down somebody, especially someone like Pessumal who he sees as a brother for life.

“You know, Von and I, we go way back. Things like this hopefully don’t become too personal.

“I have no intention na ipapahiya yung tao or sasaktan mo yung tao. Wala namang ganun. Laro-laro lang,” said NLEX’s leading scorer.

It was somehow a night to remember for Ravena, but for all the wrong reasons. After Friday’s loss that sent their card to 2-3, the veteran internationalist now sees the need for him and the Road Warriors to push the panic button.

“‘Di na pwedeng sabihin palaging kailangan namin matuto eh. Pangatlong sunod na,” the second-generation cager expressed.

“Kailangan siguro naming umaksyon.”

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