ATENEO skipper Bea de Leon was glad to see rookies Dani Ravena and Cassie Gequillana earn their playing time in the Premier Volleyball League Collegiate Conference.
Ravena, who was a back-up setter for Deanna Wong, and Gequillana, a freshman open spiker, played for the first time in four games as the Lady Eagles eliminated San Sebastian, 25-11, 25-13, 25-13, on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.
Although both came off the bench in the third set, they did not disappoint as far as de Leon is concerned.
“It's very motivating for them to get a chance to play,” said de Leon.
“So I'm sure they're very happy and we're very happy and proud of Cassie and Dani,” she added.
De Leon could not help but to credit her team’s collective effort especially even without head coach Tai Bundit, who was absent due to fever according to assistant coach Sherwin Malonzo.
The Lady Eagles needed only 59 minutes to finish the match in a dominating fashion with more attacks (39-22), breaking down their opponent’s defense at the net (5-0 blocks) and raining down service aces (14-2).
“It was very good teamwork today. I think we were very care-free on the court. That was a big factor for us,” said de Leon.
“When coach Tai's not here, you always try to remember whatever he tells us. It's very helpful to be happy,” she added. “Siyempre, it boils down to doon sa mga bilin niya, skills-wise.”
Ateneo improved to 3-1 for the solo second spot behind unbeaten National University (3-0) in Group A.
On her part, Ravena was glad to see some action but insisted that she knew she had to earn her minutes.
For the first time in four games, the rookie setter was fielded in late in the third set to replace starting setter Deanna Wong and kept the team cruising to victory.
Dani, the youngest of the playing Ravena siblings next to Ateneo men’s basketball stars Kiefer and Third and daughter of former basketball and volleyball stars Bong and Mozzy, was aware of her role in the team.
“Lahat kami pinagdaanan ‘yun, you have to earn your minutes, hindi naman ‘yun ibibigay ng coach nang basta-basta,” said Dani.
“It means that I need to work harder, I need to earn those minutes to play and I try to be better each training, iniisip ko na ang goal ko next game makalaro na ako and hopefully I can do better,” she added.
Sitting at the bench for the first three games must be frustrating for some but not for Dani, who came off the bench when the Lady Eagles were ahead, 17-7, in the third set.
“Hindi siya frustrating for me (na hindi makalaro), I know my role sa team for now. My role sa team is to help the team to motivate them,” she said. “Makahelp lang ako sa team, that’s enough for me na.”