Greenstincts: Searching for the Lady Spikers’ lost mojo

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I can relate to what the DLSU Lady Spikers have gone through yesterday’s semi-final loss with a recent personal transaction gone horribly wrong. After months of preparation and seemingly endless amount of effort towards that one day, you find yourself choking and coming up short just when a split second decision presents itself that makes or breaks the whole game or process.

Instantly afterwards, we enter the first of five stages of grief: Denial. Before last game’s loss, the Lady Spikers were only beaten by one other them in the elimination round, finalists Ateneo Lady Eagles. How can a team with star power and unfathomable bench enter their final four match in lifeless and directionless manner? Even the broadcast analysts were wondering why La Salle was playing flat and not like the team that most are accustomed to.

One quickly remembers what could have been, what could have been done differently and who are the possible scapegoats. Not only was the NU Lady Bulldogs’ 25-20, 25-20, 25-19 straight sets win dominating, it crushed the what’s left of the self-confidence and belief that the Lady Spikers had despite having a twice-to-beat advantage.

The stats don’t lie, NU beat La Salle in all the important categories in attack points (40-32), blocks (11-9), serve points (5-4) and even committed less errors (14-19). Despite having another crack at a finals berth, what’s worrying for the Lady Spikers is the team’s seemingly lack of urgency, direction and motivation to keep on fighting. The body language of the players yesterday seem to indicate a readiness to call it a season and just settle on accepting the bronze trophy at the award ceremony.

Rust might have played a role as DLSU last played two weeks ago, February 18, but should not be made as the sole excuse for losing the game. The Lady Spikers trailed the entire first and second sets and only manage to lead for a few moments in the third frame.

It’s funny how the trio of La Salle, Ateneo and NU teams are positioned now compared to last Season 76. A year ago, the Lady Spikers barged into the finals outright by virtue of a elimination round sweep. The Lady Eagles were the number three team who had to overcome the twice-to-beat edge of the Lady Bulldogs.

That Ateneo team peaked at the right time and managed to negate not only NU’s advantage but also DLSU’s thrice-to-beat bonus at the championship round. The streaking Lady Bulldogs have gone 8-3 since replacing Dong dela Cruz with Roger Gorayeb in the middle of the tournament and with yesterday’s win placed DLSU head coach Ramil de Jesus and his wards in a do-or-die situation.

It will be two days until the teams meet once again for the right to face the Ateneo Lady Eagles, better hope that the team regains its mojo, confidence and fun demeanor back.