MANILA, Philippines – Adamson University coach Airess Padda was not underestimating University of the East (UE) when she decided not to star three of her key players – Jema Galanza, Chiara Permentilla, and Eli Soyud – in their UAAP Season 80 game on Sunday.
Instead, the three players were benched for disciplinary reasons, Padda explained after the Lady Falcons absorbed a stunning five-set loss at the hands of the Lady Warriors.
Without their leading scorers, Adamson lost the opening set, 22-25. They recovered to take the next two frames, but UE forced a decider after the Lady Falcons committed a whopping 16 unforced errors in the fourth set. UE veteran Shaya Adorador then took over in the fifth set, piloting the Lady Warriors to the stunning 25-22, 22-25, 14-25, 25-20, 15-13 triumph.
"Eli and Jema weren't even in training this week, so I felt they don't deserve a chance to start," a somber Padda told reporters after the game.
None of the three players were effective. Soyud labored for 11 points, but sat out the entire fifth frame as well. Permentilla had eight, and Galanza had nine markers – well below their usual averages.
But Padda insists she does not regret the disciplinary action that she took against the three players, even as the Lady Falcons reel from a terrible loss that took the glow off their upset of De La Salle University last week.
"I don't think it's the reason why we lost. I mean, I have morals as a coach, I have to stick to my own. And when you're not in training the whole week, you can't just show up and play," said Padda.
The coach explained that Soyud had been sick, while Galanza rolled her ankle in their game against La Salle. Permentilla, meanwhile, had been gone due to "family stuff."
"I just had to make a decision, and I decided to give the other girls a chance," said the American coach.
"If you're not doing the work in training with the team, I don't understand how I'm just supposed to start you when other girls have been working hard, they've been there," she also said.
Padda said the players who started – notably Kring Uy and Bernadette Flora – should not be blamed for the loss either. "I don't think that they did a bad job," she said.
"My job as a coach is to give everyone an opportunity to play, because that's what I train them for. So who would I be if I didn't give them that opportunity? I don't know if I could look at myself and call myself their coach. So that was my decision," she added.
For Padda, her benching of Galanza, Soyud and Permentilla should not be seen as a reason for the loss. Nevertheless, she herself struggled to explain her team's performance, but acknowledged that the Lady Falcons "showed up with a very weak mindset" against the Lady Warriors.
"They were really complacent, they didn't respect UE, and they didn't care. They were way too cocky, and I don't know. The coaches are shocked," she admitted.
The Adamson team that showed up against UE was a shadow of the one that pulled off an upset of La Salle just last week. The Lady Falcons gave away 52 points off their unforced errors – half of the 101 points that UE scored in total.
In the end, Padda only had one word to describe the performance: "Embarrassing."
"For me, personally, it's embarrassing. Because we don't train them like that. I don't know who that team was out there," she said.
With the loss, Adamson ended the first round of the women's volleyball tournament with a 3-4 win-loss record, putting them in a dangerous position heading into the second round.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.