Gretchen Ho explains Ateneo's Finals loss
MANILA, Philippines – The pressure of a high-stakes game, frustration due to errors and the challenge of a strong opponent combined to crush the Ateneo Lady Eagles in the UAAP Season 75 women’s volleyball finals, admits veteran Gretchen Ho.
Leading two sets to none and with a 13-8 lead in Set 3, the Lady Eagles suffered a stunning collapse as defending champions De La Salle staged a remarkable comeback to eventually win in five sets.
In Game Two, the Lady Eagles were unable to take even one set as the Lady Spikers claimed their third straight women’s volleyball title.
In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBNnews.com, Ho admitted that the Lady Eagles found it difficult to deal with the pressure-packed situation in the Finals against La Salle.
“Kasi kami, kapag ‘yung pressure medyo mataas, doon kami nahihirapan mag-perform well,” Ho explained. “Kailangan mag-enjoy lang kami, kasi doon lumalabas ‘yung totoong laro namin.”
“Pero kapag high-pressure game, doon kami nagka-crumble. ‘Yun talaga ang problem namin. Psychological talaga,” she added.
Frustration over errors
When asked about their Game 1 collapse, Ho said they felt really “down” after squandering a two-set lead.
“I remember that started off a service receive error, tapos tuloy-tuloy na. ‘Yun ang problema sa amin. Kapag nagkamali na, tuloy-tuloy na. Hindi kami maka-recover agad,” she said.
“It’s because kami, pag nagkakamali kami, naiinis kami sa sarili namin. Hindi kami parang, ‘Okay, nagkamali ako, bawi ako next time.’ Kami, ‘Nagkamali ako, I let my team down,’” she added.
Ho said they felt too comfortable with their two-set lead and failed to press their advantage.
“Mali ‘yun, kasi kung may advantage na kami, dapat kinuha na namin ‘yun. ‘Yung La Salle kasi, kapag nasa kanila ‘yung momentum, talagang dire-diretso na sila,” she said.
Going into Game 2, Ho said they felt “really pumped” and were eager to equalize the series.
“Kaya lang, ‘yun nga, pagdating na naman sa game, pag nagkakamali na kami, hindi na namin alam kung paano mag-switch back, mag-recover to our real game,” she lamented.
“Pag tuloy-tuloy na ‘yung La Salle, nai-intimidate na kami. Hindi namin alam ‘yung ‘Guys, tara, kaya natin, ayusin natin.’ ‘Yun ‘yung kulang sa amin, ‘yung composure. Pag nagkamali na, hindi namin alam ibalik,” Ho said.
But Ho also acknowledged that La Salle had physical advantages that they couldn’t get past.
“We knew they had the advantage, kasi matatangkad sila. Alam nila ‘yung weak spot namin, which is ‘yung drop,” she said.
In Game 2, La Salle’s Mika Reyes took over in the middle and scored too easily on drop shots.
“Ako, hindi ko talaga maabot,” Ho said. “Feel ko ang helpless ko talaga. Gusto ko talaga tumulong, pero wala akong magawa kasi ang liit ko.”
Final year for Fab Five
Knowing that it was the last chance for many of them also added to the pressure and wound up working against the Lady Eagles.
“Pressure talaga, kasi gusto naming manalo. Kailangan naming manalo kasi last year na ito, last chance na. Kaya naging ganoon – naging negative,” Ho said.
Ho, along with Fille Cainglet, Aillysse Nacachi, setter Jem Ferrer and team captain Dzi Gervacio were all playing in their final season, something that turned out to be a double-edged sword for the “Fab Five.”
“Two ways: May pressure nga, but on the other side, mas ganado kami maglaro. Every game talaga, pinapahalagahan namin,” Ho said.
“Kaya lang, ‘yun nga. Noong bandang dulo, mas nanaig ‘yung negative side.”
La Salle’s heart
Ho’s teammate Alyssa Valdez, who led the UAAP in scoring during the elimination round, stressed that the Lady Eagles did not lack the skills to beat La Salle, noting that they were able beat the Lady Spikers last season.
“It’s not the skill. It’s the heart, the will to win, the desire, the passion. Nawala,” said Valdez.
Valdez said that at the end of the day, it was La Salle’s impressive fighting heart that made the difference in the Finals series.
“’Yung desire nila, kahit two sets down na sila, ‘yun ‘yung kulang talaga sa team namin,” she admitted. “Doon kami naa-amaze sa team nila, na nagt-try pa rin sila, tina-try pa rin nila na ibigay ‘yung all nila.”
“Kami, in just a snap, konting switch lang, hindi na namin mabalik,” Valdez added.
“’Yun lang ‘yung kulang namin na meron sila – ‘yung heart talaga to win. 110% or 200% meron sila noon – the heart to win.”
It was the second consecutive season that the Lady Eagles lost to their rivals in the women’s volleyball finals.