Gretchen Ho says 'real' Ateneo only showed up when backed against the wall
Former Lady Eagle Gretchen Ho watched the match from ringside. Dante Peralta

FORMER Ateneo star Gretchen Ho said the Lady Eagles were complacent but played true to form when it mattered during their first meeting of the season with rival La Salle in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.

Ho was part of the crowd of 18,489 at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday that witnessed the rematch of last year’s finals which the reigning champions Lady Eagles won in five sets, 25-22, 25-27, 16-25, 25-14, 15-9.

For the outside looking in, the former Ateneo star said the Lady Eagles weren’t playing their real game at the start of the tightly fought match that took two hours and five minutes to complete.

“Noong una medyo relaxed 'yung Ateneo sa laro kasi 'yung La Salle laging nauuna sa puntos,” said Ho. “Napansin ko noong una medyo loose 'yung game ng Ateneo.”

It was only after falling behind two sets to one that the Lady Eagles played with a sense of urgency.

“Noong nanalo ng two sets 'yung La Salle nagising sila,” said Ho. “Parang, 'We have to work,' and then the last set, para sa akin, 'yun 'yung totoong laro.”

Although Ateneo committed 46 errors compared to the 36 of La Salle, Ho saw no pressure on the side of the defending champions led by star player Alyssa Valdez.

"Hindi sila na-pressure kahit na nagkakamali sila,” said Ho, part of the Ateneo team that finished runner-up to La Salle in Season 74 and 75.

Ateneo finished the first round of elimination with a perfect 7-0 slate, while putting a stop to La Salle’s six-game winning run. The two rival teams will again meet on February 22 at the Araneta Coliseum.

“I think we will see a better match in the second round, 'yung talagang pukpukan,” she predicted.

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