De La Salle volleyball team
MANILA, Philippines – It is complacency, and not rust, that has the potential to become a problem for the three-time defending champions De La Salle Lady Spikers when they begin their Finals series against the Ateneo Lady Eagles on Wednesday.
This, according to former La Salle star Michele Gumabao.
The women from Taft are trying to win their fourth straight women’s volleyball championship in UAAP Season 76, and will have a thrice-to-beat advantage against the Lady Eagles after sweeping the 14-game elimination round.
They have not played a game since February 15, but Gumabao said on “The Score” that this won't be a problem.
“Siguro, coming from a break, maninibago ulit sila pagdating sa game,” she conceded. “But based on experience, ang naging problema namin before was being complacent.”
La Salle also swept the elimination round in Season 74, earned a thrice-to-beat advantage, and faced Ateneo in the Finals. But then, the Lady Eagles shocked them in the first game, winning in four sets.
“’Yung thrice-to-beat advantage, umakyat na sa ulo namin back then,” Gumabao admitted. “We thought we were invincible, na hindi na kami matatalo because we’ve come this far.”
“And then, natalo kami, so that was a big wake-up call.”
The Lady Spikers did recover quickly, winning the next two games to claim the title.
Gumabao is hoping that this season’s Lady Spikers won’t fall into the same trap.
“I don’t want it to happen this year, so hopefully, they won’t let it get to their heads,” she said.
La Salle is favored to retain the title, especially as they are facing an Ateneo squad that is rebuilding after losing five of their key players to graduation.
But former Ateneo star Dzi Gervacio said this has worked to the Lady Eagles’ favor.
“Si Ella (de Jesus) na ‘yung nagsabi sa akin na wala silang pressure to play, because they weren’t expecting anything,” she said. “Grace na lang na dumating sila sa point na ito and they’re playing in the finals.”
Game 1 of the Finals will be held on Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the Araneta Coliseum.