Ateneo's Aimee Ahomiro (16) attempts a spike against La Salle's Cyd Demecillo (18). Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Former Ateneo volleyball star Gretchen Ho saw a lot of room for improvement for the Lady Eagles even as she commended the “promising” young team following their game against rivals La Salle on Sunday.
Ho, a vital cog of the last two Ateneo teams that reached the Finals, was in attendance at the Mall of Asia Arena when the Lady Eagles played the Lady Spikers in the first round of the UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball tournament.
The young Ateneo team, who entered the match on a five-game winning streak, were dismantled by the three-time defending champions and lost in three swift sets.
“Ang positive siguro is, nakakatuwa kasi ‘yung mga teammates ko dati na nasa second six, nakikita ko sila na nags-step up ngayon,” Ho told ABS-CBNnews.com in an exclusive interview. “Lalo na si Amy Ahomiro at si Ella (de Jesus). And the rookies seem very promising.”
But Ho also noted that there are still several areas of improvement for the young Lady Eagles, especially in terms of communicating inside the court and finding other sources of offense aside from reigning Best Scorer Alyssa Valdez.
“Ang negative is, itong game na ito, hindi ko nakita ‘yung teamwork,” said Ho. “Parang individually sila naglalaro, na pag nagkakamali na ito, nafu-frustra na sila, tapos nagshu-shut down. Kaya parang kanina, tahimik sila lahat, walang nagsasalita sa court.”
“One thing also, parang hindi nila alam ‘yung gagawin nila against La Salle dahil naba-block na sila. So feel ko, ‘yung diskarte sa setting, ‘yun ‘yung very important, and more plays,” she added.
Ho also observed that the Lady Eagles may have been intimidated by the Lady Spikers.
“La Salle has been on a winning streak, and… solid team pa rin sila, all veterans,” she pointed out. “’yung mindset na dapat pag-apsok mo pa lang sa court, alam mo na kaya mong manalo, kasi kapag iniisip mo na talo ka na, ‘yun ‘yung mangyayari.”
The Lady Spikers’ dominant blocking has long been a thorn in Ateneo’s side, but Ho said that the taller Lady Eagles should be able to come up with ways to overcome La Salle’s net defense.
“Siguro the good thing with the team now is that they’re taller, so they can block more. ‘Yun ‘yung nakikita ko, na kaya naman nila tapatan. Nagsh-sut down langt talaga sila kapag naba-block sila, at hindi na nila alam kung sino pa ang pwede pumalo. Kung hindi si Alyssa, sino na? Wala na. ‘Yun ‘yun eh. Nafu-frustrate sila,” Ho said.
Despite the loss, Ho is excited for the future of the Ateneo women’s volleyball team and expects them to give La Salle a much tougher challenge in the second round of the tournament.
“Nakita ko kanina si (Mae) Tajima, nag-step up, and (Ahomiro) is also very tall and very good on blocking. So they’re a taller team now, and they just need to strengthen up mentally against La Salle and not lose their composure within the game,” Ho said. “Siguro in the second round, Ateneo will give a better fight.”