MANILA, Philippines – Volleyball analyst Mozzy Ravena believes Ateneo’s style of playing “happy volleyball” helped power their upset of the De La Salle Lady Spikers in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball Finals.
The Lady Eagles entered the finals as underdogs against the three-time defending champions, and were dominated by La Salle in the opening set as their floor defense left much to be desired.
But after stealing the second set, 25-23, the Lady Eagles crushed the Lady Spikers in the third set and proved to be the steadier team in crunch time as they held off a late La Salle rally in the fourth to complete the momentous upset.
Speaking on “The Score,” Ravena gave credit to Ateneo coach Arunsorn “Tai” Bundit for convincing the Lady Eagles that they were capable of beating La Salle even though they lost both games to the Lady Spikers in the elimination round.
“Si Coach Tai was able to bring them to the championship with just three simple words: Heart, strong, and happy,” said Ravena.
Bundit speaks little English, but has given Ateneo a rallying cry all season long with “Heart Strong.”
During timeouts, he also encouraged the Lady Eagles to play “happy,” which Ravena said was a major factor in Game 1.
“They (the Lady Eagles) see Coach Tai, and he made them believe that they are a strong team, made them believe that they have the biggest hears, and made them play happy volleyball,” she said. “That is really the best kind.”
Ravena also noted that the game was far from the “Alyssa Valdez Show,” as several other players stepped up for the Lady Eagles.
“You have Ella de Jesus, you have Michelle Morente, and even your setter (Julia) Morado is really playing,” said Ravena. “Let’s not discount the fact that (libero) DenDen Lazaro is playing her best year ever.”
Ravena said the momentum is clearly with the Lady Eagles, but they need another sterling effort to repeat their victory.
“La Salle is a prepared team,” she said. “(They are) well-prepared and may championship experience. (Ateneo cannot be) complacent sa paglalaro nila, and they always have to give their best shot.”
“Kailangan, every game ganoon ang ilalaro nila against a very tough La Salle squad.”