MANILA, Philippines – The De La Salle Lady Spikers could have made an even bigger statement by sweeping the Ateneo Lady Eagles in straight sets in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball finals, but the three-time defending champions let their guard down and relaxed.
This, according to their multi-titled mentor, Ramil de Jesus.
“Kung hindi naman nag-relax siguro, masasabi ko na kaya naming tapusin in straight sets ‘yung kalaban eh,” De Jesus said on Saturday after La Salle bucked a Set 3 loss to move to within a game of clinching a fourth straight title.
“Kaya lang, dahil nagkaroon ng pagre-relax, kumapit ‘yung kalaban, so nakuha nila ‘yung third set. Nagkaroon ng confidence ‘yung kalaban, nabuhay ‘yung crowd,” he added. “So ayun, naging maganda ‘yung laban.”
La Salle took the first two sets but Ateneo forced an extension with a 25-19 Set 3 victory. The Lady Eagles came close to forcing a do-or-die fifth set, tying the fourth at 24-all, but committed two consecutive errors that allowed La Salle to wrap up the game.
With the victory, the Lady Spikers are now just one win away from the championship, while Ateneo will need to win on Wednesday to force a do-or-die game.
De Jesus revealed that he warned his players against letting their guard down going into Set 3.
“Noong second set, sinabi ko na ‘wag muna tayo masyadong mag-enjoy, kasi hindi pa tapos ‘yung game,” he said.
“And then, nag-start ‘yung third set, lumayo ‘yung score, nakikita ko nagre-relax na. Kaya ayun, mahirap makabalik lalo na kapag nabuhay ‘yung crowd,” he added.
De Jesus wants the Lady Spikers to go all out in Game 3 on Wednesday so as not to give Ateneo anymore hope, especially as he knows that the Lady Eagles play best when their backs are against the wall.
‘”Yung pinagdaanan ng Ateneo, hindi madali,” said De Jesus, referring to the three do-or-die games that the Lady Eagles played on their way to the finals. “Kaya ganoon kataas ‘yung morale nila, ganoon kataas ‘yung nilalaro nila. Kailangan talaga, malampasan namin ‘yun para nasa amin ulit ‘yung momentum.”