WOMEN’S: Moving on from Bang
Rarely do teams recover from the loss of their best player, let alone the MVP of the league. If something could be said from Adamson’s performance during the first day, it’s not that they are bound to have an incredibly tough title-defense, but rather it highlighted just how much of a transcendent talent Sheila Pineda is.
Pineda had everything one would need to succeed in a sport like beach volleyball. She was arguably the best Women’s Volleyball player in the UAAP last year with her mix of uncanny explosive offense and deft sense for floor defense; all of which seamlessly transitioned from the clay-court to the sand court.
This year’s tandem features returnee Amanda Villanueva, a streaky scorer who has had trouble moving around the court, and Len Cortel, last year’s team captain for indoor volleyball. Cortel had trouble finding her niche’ early in the season but eventually found her role as one of the team’s more balanced players.
The veteran savvy alone helped them outlast Ateneo in their first game. The Lady Falcons blew away the Lady Eagles in the first set then stole the second set from the Eagles who held two match points before Adamson scored 4 straight points.
However, NU exposed Adamson’s main weaknesses in their match later in the day, as the towering Jaja Santiago controlled the pace of the game with her supreme control of the net and devastating attacks. Adamson would take a nail-biter of a first set but the Lady Bulldogs took the last two sets handily.
This year’s tandem of Cortel and Villanueva still epitomize the brand of volleyball the Adamson program has churned out since the days of Mommy Dulce; frantic floor defense that made up for the team’s perpetual lack of size. But they simply do not have the skills that had Sheila Pineda dominate the sand-courts last season. Bang could serve, spike, set, dig, receive and read defenses with the best of them, so one barely ever noticed that she was barely 5’5’’.
Though Cortel has all-around skills, she lacks the bang Pineda had on her serves and attacks causing team’s to target her with their serves. Amanda has come leaps and bounds from where she was last season. This time, she’s the one who has creates offense with her sets as last year she was the one who had to generate offense with her spiking with Bang.
Cortel and Villanueva still have a great shot at making the Final Four this year, but the general lack of offensive bang might leave them out of the Finals picture.
MEN’S: UPSET STATE OF MIND
Being the powerhouse of a Volleyball program the NU is, it should come as no surprise as to why this win was such a big deal for the Falcons.
For past seasons, the defending champion, NU would dominate the AdU in every match and this season, with veterans Edwin Tolentino and Joseph Tipay coming back for the Bulldogs, seemed to be no different.
But Adamson’s Michael Sudaria and Rence Melgar had other ideas as they pulled of a shocking, 21-17, 21-19 upset. Of the two, Sudaria showed the most improvement in his game as even if he lacked length and height, he was able to successfully control the net, altering and blocking shots that came his way. Melgar also came through as he produced points when the Bulldogs targeted him with their serves.
Like their lady counterparts, the Falcons have always brandished solid floor defense that made up for their general lack in height. Look for this Men’s tandem to pull off a few more upsets on their way to a Final Four spot.