Having just won two consecutive games in dominant fashion, the Adamson Lady Falcons are figuring to continue their long standing tradition of making the Final Four and making noise once they get there; which was a steep proposition seeing all the key loses to their lineup from last season.
There were gaping holes left by those players which Adamson had the proper fillers in their roster for, but it was clear that someone had to give way. One of the quirkier ways Adamson’s brain-trust decided to plug those gaps was to put Marleen Cortel, who has been playing as an opposite hitter in all her years playing volleyball, in the lead libero role to possibly pull something close to fellow Adamsonian Bang Pineda’s conversion with the Cagayan Valley Rising Sun.
“Sa Uni Games unang binanggit sa akin kung willing daw ba ako mag-libero. At first di ko talaga alam kung paano ako magrereact kasi spiker talaga ako for four years sa UAAP tapos bigla na lang last year ko, maglilibero ako bigla. Pero in the end nung nag decide na talaga si Coach na libero na talaga ako, I took it as a challenge,” said Cortel.
“Nagtrabaho na lang ako lalo, hindi ko na rin lang inisip na kakabahan ako. Ginawa kong goal ko na mapatunayan ko na may napanindigan ako in five years dito (UAAP). Maganda rin kasi may naitutulong ako sa team,” she added.
Cortel’s conversion has been key in Adamson’s suddenly dynamic offense in more ways than one. Her commitment to playing the back row has allowed the budding Mylene Paat to take the opposite hitter position. Paat is a tall and powerful spiker who used to play the middle blocker position, slotting her as an outside hitter allows Adamson to pair her with another blocker in team captain Faye Guevarra or Erika Alkuino, to form a formidable blocking tandem for opposing open spikers, usually a team’s best spiker. This is a favorable turn of events for Adamson who has lacked length in their frontline over the past few seasons. According to Cortel, blocking is the key to their success.
“Pag gumana iyun (blocking), wala na eh, ok na eh, susunod na dun yung pagpalo saka iyung depensa. Wala na rin kameng poproblemahin sa depensa sa likod kasi madalas ang pupunta na lang sa amin drop ball o top spin na lang.”
Paat is also lefty like Cortel, which really makes her like an open spiker on the opposite side of the net; a hefty advantage considering Adamson also has powerful spikers in Mands Villanueva and breakout star, Gemma Galanza strafing from the other side of the net.
Len-Len, as Cortel is more fondly known, has not been a slouch in her new role. She has always been a hard worker with a penchant for floor defense, a signature trait for all Lady Falcons. Cortel has been consistent in her receptions; which has given new setter Fhen Emnas the luxury of simply setting the ball for her spikers.
But perhaps the biggest change she had to adjust to was Coach Sherwin Meneses deciding to make someone else captain of the team as Cortel was pegged as the team’s captain last season. Usually, teams have their captain graduate before moving on to a new leader, which puts Cortel in what could be an awkward predicament, but the Marketing major has full trust in her Coach and the new captain.
“May prupose naman si Coach kung bakit siya (Guevarra), iyung ginawang captain. Advantage yun kasi mas matanda si ate Faye sa akin. Pero sabi nga ni Coach dapat lahat kami (Seniors) parang team captain na rin kaya tumutulong pa rin kami,” said Cortel.
After stomping on their perennial rivals, FEU, and with most of their fellow Final Four aspirants limping out of the gate, Admason now looks like a lock to make a deep trip into the season. Once we get the chance to look back at Adamson’s success this season, we shouldn’t forget the sacrifices their former captain had to make to unlock her team’s potential.
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