There were multiple story-lines heading into the NU-Arellano SVL tilt. Perhaps no storyline prevailed more than the absence of NU’s stalwarts, Dindin Santiago and Myla Pablo, who were playing for the country in the VTV tournament in Vietnam.
Arellano prevailed in four sets mostly due to NU’s 41 errors and the terrific play of their wing hitters. While it might be convenient to write off NU’s loss as just another blip in the radar, the match had multiple implications that could resonate into both team’s respective collegiate league.
The Lady Bulldogs, with the exception of Dindin Manabat, basically played their UAAP lineup sans Myla Pablo. Like last season, the Lady Bulldogs struggled to produce points in rotations where Jaja was playing at the back row. With the graduation of Rizza Mandapat, NU no longer has a safety net to ease Aiko Urdas back into playing shape. Last season’s prized recruits, Roma Doromal and Marites Pablo, haven’t received that much playing time, while this season’s batch of rookies, Rica Diolan, Rose Doria, and Jasmine Nabor, are still works in progress. Roger Gorayeb’s squad especially needs Rica Diolan to improve leaps and bounds in order to properly contend in the next UAAP season. The running narrative with the Lady Bulldogs has always been that they just need a good setter to pass to their hitters. Diolan is going to need a lot more time and experience to pull the Lady Bulldogs’ offense.
Myla’s presence will certainly help, but, so far, most of the holes on last season’s team still hampers the Lady Bulldogs’ ascent. NU’s offense needs to run more efficiently with more action than the Jaja quick attacks, Myla Pablo open hits, or Jorelle Singh rolling power hits.
On the other hand, the Lady Chiefs have long looked forward to this victory. After several meetings in multiple tournaments, it wasn’t until Saturday that AU finally thwarted their foes from Sampaloc.
Though his team has peaked and won an NCAA title just last season, AU Head Coach, Roberto Javier, admits that there’s still something especially sweet about beating NU. “Masarap talaga sa pakiramdam kasi first time namin natalo itong NU. Pero kulang nga sila (NU) at saka may mga nakita pa rin ako na kailangan namin ayusin,” said Javier.
Javier agreed with the notion that there was a sense of vindication for his girls, especially for those who transferred from NU to Arellano, and even those who transferred from other UAAP schools. “Kaya ko pinasok ‘yung mga ‘yun kasi nga alam na nila ‘yung galaw ng kalaban. Ang sabi ko sa kanila dapat sa atin na ‘to kasi di pa natin sila natatalo,” Javier shared.
Arellano might not have beaten the NU team that features the elder Santiago, but they can always hang their hats on the fact that they took care of NU’s UAAP lineup just without Myla Pablo.
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