MANILA, Philippines – The University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors had been prepared to defend against Jema Galanza, Chiara Permentilla, and Eli Soyud ahead of their UAAP Season 80 match-up against Adamson University on Sunday.
Thus, imagine their surprise when none of the three players stepped on the court to open their game at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Adamson coach Airess Padda later explained that the three players were benched for disciplinary reasons, but for the Lady Warriors, their absence served as a motivation.
"Noong na sa loob kami ng court, sabi namin, ‘Di ata 'yung si Galanza at saka si Permentilla na nasa loob ah,’" UE veteran Shaya Adorador said after the game.
"So nag-usap kami, hindi 'yung (usual) outside hitters nila 'yung mga pinasok. Bawat isa sa amin, talaga nag-step up," she added. "Walang team talaga na mamaliitin talaga. Walang ganon. Kasi once na minaliit mo 'yan, doon lalabas 'yung laro ng isang team talaga."
UE took the opening set, 25-22, although they dropped the second and third. The Lady Warriors, however, managed to force a deciding match after the Lady Falcons committed 16 unforced errors in Set 4.
Adorador then took over in the fifth set, firing seven points including the offspeed hit that served as the match-winner.
Later, she insisted that they were not insulted by Padda's decision to bench Galanza, Soyud, and Permentilla, especially as they did not know the reason ahead of time.
"Not really," said Adorador. "Naisip lang namin na i-play namin 'yung laro namin kanina."
UE libero Kath Arado also saud that more than feeling insulted, she was even more motivated to play at a high level upon not seeing Galanza and Permentilla on the court.
"'Yun lang 'yung mas tumulak sa akin na kunin lahat ng bola," said Arado, who registered 24 digs in the game. "Walang lalapag na bola, kasi iniisip ko rin talaga 'yung paghihirap namin sa past training namin."
"So sa isip ko, babalewalain ko lang ba 'yung paghihirap ng bawat kasama ko kung hindi namin ipapanalo 'yung game na ito," she added.
UE's amazing 25-22, 22-25, 14-25, 25-20, 15-13 victory snapped their 13-match losing streak dating back to Season 79. Incidentally, their last win also came at the expense of the Adamson Lady Falcons.
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