MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo de Manila University opened the post-Jia Morado era with a tough five-set loss to Far Eastern University (FEU) on Sunday, but the Lady Eagles remained in relatively high spirits after the setback.
The Lady Eagles squandered a one-set advantage twice, then fell apart after taking a 6-1 lead in the fifth frame. FEU ended up with a 19-25, 25-21, 18-25, 25-20, 15-9 triumph to open the UAAP Season 80 women's volleyball tournament.
Still, that they were able to drag FEU into a five-setter was already a reason to celebrate for the Lady Eagles, who are in a rebuilding phase following the exit of key players such as Morado and Michelle Morente, among others.
"Masaya naman si Coach Tai (Bundit) sa game, kasi naka-five sets," said Ateneo assistant coach Sherwin Meneses. "Malaki 'yung adjustments na nagawa, so 'di naman medyo masama 'yung game."
He noted that their transition offense was good, making up for their poor initial attack due to their awful reception in the game.
"'Yung counter-attack sa block, medyo okay," said Meneses.
New skipper Maddie Madayag also gave her teammates a passing mark for their first game of the new season.
"We all played a good game naman," she said. "'Yun nga lang, kulang talaga."
Ateneo fell apart in the final set, where they committed eight unforced errors and allowed the Lady Tamaraws to score four service aces. FEU had a total of 20 aces in the game, including eight in the second set where they fought their way back into the match.
Madayag attributed their woes to a lack of chemistry, as the Ateneo players are still trying to mesh together inside the court.
"We're still gelling," said Madayag. "'Di pa kami completely as in buo. Kinakapa pa, kasi first game 'di ba? So ayun, hopefully second game, mas maganda na ulit 'yung laro namin kasi training ulit kami."
Ultimately, the five-set loss to FEU should be chalked up to experience.
"Okay na 'yung talo kami ngayon, kesa panalo, panalo, panalo, tapos biglang matatalo kami," said the Ateneo captain, who finished with four points in a losing effort.
"This is also a learning experience for us, na natalo kami. I think alam na namin kung anong pagkukulang namin sa games, and alam namin 'yung kailangan namin pag-trabahuhin," added Madayag.
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