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Valdez on Lady Eagles’ slow starts

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The Lady Eagles have been their usual dominant self in their run in the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference. Despite the many injuries their key players went through, Ateneo still managed a perfect record and are now one win away from the Finals.

However, the Lady Eagles have gotten into the habit of starting matches slowly. All but one of the sets Ateneo lost in the tournament were either the first two sets.

In Game One of their best-of-three semifinals series with the UST Tigresses, the ladies from Loyola needed to force a deuce in the first set to escape a feisty UST start.

“Sabi ni Coach Tai, hindi strong ‘yung start namin, kahit until the end medyo [hindi maganda ‘yung nilaro namin]. Ang daming errors,” Vadez said in the match’s post game presser as her Lady Eagles surrendered 25 errors to UST’s 20.

It could be that other teams are just incredibly pumped to face the vaunted Lady Eagles causing incredible leaps in their performance. CSB, a team that was knocked out in the quarterfinals, took the first two sets of their match against Ateneo, eventually falling in five sets. Valdez, for her part, thinks the problem stems from matters outside of volleyball.

When asked if it’s fatigue plaguing her team Valdez replied, “It’s part of it. ‘Yung pagod, buong week may klase pa yung iba. May mga nagkakasakit pa because of the weather,” Valdez remarked. “Pero, when you enter the court, laging sinasabi ni Coach Tai, dapat focused kami on the game and may teammates naman kami to help each other. We’re really hoping that we start better tomorrow,” the Batangueña added.

“Same din ‘yung ginagawa namin sa training. Siguro nasa players din, nasa mindset talaga – dapat all-out, all-heart. Pero minsan hindi din namin ma-control ‘yung nangyayari sa loob ng court. We’re trying to minimize all the errors and make our teamwork shine,” Valdez continued.

Nonetheless, Ateneo now only needs to win Game Two, tomorrow at 3 p.m. at the FilOil Flying V Arena, to book a ticket to the Finals where they will face the winner of the NU-FEU series.

Valdez, to end her press conference, expressed delight in Bea De Leon leading the team in scoring. This was the first time anyone other than Valdez topped the Ateneans in scoring when she played the match post fab-five era.

“I’m so happy for Bea. And for Gizelle (Tan) kasi she’s been doing a great job of distributing the ball. Hopefully it continues,” she closed.

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Miguel Luis Flores fell face first into sports writing in high sch9l and has never gotten up. He reluctantly stumbled into the volleyball beat when he started with Tiebreaker Times three years ago. Now, he has waded through everything volleyball - from its icky politics to the post-modern art that is Jia Morado's setting.

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