One of the key pieces in Ateneo’s back-to-back UAAP volleyball championships was the impact of ace Libero, Denden Lazaro, in anchoring the team’s floor defense.
However, with Lazaro using her very last UAAP playing year last season, the Lady Eagles will now resort to other options in filling in the void left by their defensive specialist.
Fans and supporters alike finally got a glimpse on how the Lady Eagles played without their prized libero in the ongoing Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference. Being the powerhouse team they are, the Lady Eagles are still the same two-way juggernaut everyone knew since they began capturing titles.
“Siguro I think dahil madaming nawala sa amin at madami kaming kailangang i-replace,” Ateneo superstar, Alyssa Valdez, shared when asked about the adjustments Ateneo is currently doing. “It’s better to see it ngayon pa lang, and it’s better na ganito talaga to work hard and do more sa training.”
When things get rough, Ateneo will always have Valdez to launch a sudden spike of death. When Ateneo wants a defensive spark, Bea De Leon will always make a key defensive stop in anchoring the team’s defense. In terms of their floor defense, however, Ateneo is now relying on the likes of their new Libero Jamie Lavitoria, Valdez, and Jho Maraguinot to carry the load.
During Lazaro’s time, Ateneo was able to easily withstand any powerful attack from the country’s other premiere skippers, since Denden was always ready to neutralize it with a powerful dig. In addition, it also lessened the load on Valdez, since she played a huge part in running the Ateneo offense.
“Sobrang laking kawalan talaga ni Den sa service at receive sa first ball, sa defense and everything. Iyon naman ang sinsabi ni Coach Tai [Bundit],” Valdez added. “Dapat more consistent kami sa defense at sa service-receive [coordination].”
Never using Lazaro’s absence as an excuse, Valdez further added that everyone on the team must take the initiative in being alert on defense. They may not be the defensive force that Lazaro was, but they can surely patch things up as team.
“Si Denden Lazaro sobrang laking part niya sa defense namin and she is really supportive sa team [efforts]. Coach Tai and everyone is really trying their best to get better sa defense. Pero si Den talaga is one of the best [in doing it],” Valdez ended.