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    Libero Joni Chavez proves steady as new NU setter in absence of Cagande

    Feb 23, 2019
    Joni Chavez (8) keeps her teammates happy with well-timed sets.
    PHOTO: jerome ascaño

    JONI Chavez had a decent first game as National University’s setter, helping the Lady Bulldogs get their first win in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.

    Converted from libero to setter as rookie playmaker Joyme Cagande suffered a torn ACL injury in their opener last week, Chavez admitted that she had a hard time adjusting and setting the brilliant plays of the depleted Lady Bulldogs, who are down to just 10 players.

    “Noong una mahirap kasi tinake ko na lang as challenge kasi since ako na lang talaga ‘yung pinili mag-set,” Chavez said.

    In her first game as a setter, Chavez had 14 excellent sets on top of four points helping the Lady Bulldogs in beating the UE Lady Red Warriors, 25-19, 25-23, 25-19, for their first win in two matches.

    “Sobrang saya po kasi nanalo kami tapos first time ko as a setter maglaro,” the libero-turned-setter said. “Nakakapressure pero sabi ni coach na wag ko nalang isipin ‘yung pressure and maglaro na lang ako.”

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    NU head coach Norman Miguel was glad how Chavez accepted the challenge despite the one-week preparation.

    “Hindi biro ‘yung nangyari na ‘yung key player mo [nainjure] tapos magcoconvert ka ng isang major position,” Miguel said. “Actually yung one week na iyon medyo kapos-kapos pero buti na lang magaling mag-adjust ‘yung players namin.”

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    Spikers Princess Robles and Ivy Lacsina said their great connection helped them adjust with a new setter.

    “Kahit hindi si ate Joni [‘yung nagseset], nandoon naman ‘yung connection namin. Iyon lang ‘yung winork namin ‘yung connection namin,” said Robles, who had nine points to go with eight digs and seven excellent receptions.

    “Lagi sinasabi ng mga coaches namin na maging ready sa mga struggles na pwedeng dumating sa amin,” said Lacsina, who had 18 points in the game. “Nahirapan po kami mag-adjust noong una pero dahil din sa mga tulong din ng coaches, napadali ito.”

    Although sources already disclosed to SPIN.ph that the findings of Cagande’s MRI was a high-grade tear on her ACL, Miguel said that they are still waiting for the swelling to subside.

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    “‘Yung sa kanya kasi, hinihintay nalang masubside ‘yung swelling and then after that, doon palang they’re looking kung ACL pa siya,” Miguel said. “Ayaw namin mag-expect na baka it’s yung sinasabi nila na possible na parang full tear ng ACL and then kapag may diagnosis na after the swelling, iooperahan na.”

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    Joni Chavez (8) keeps her teammates happy with well-timed sets.
    PHOTO: jerome ascaño
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