DE La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus felt University of the Philippines wanted it more than the Lady Spikers, but he remained optimistic despite absorbing their first loss in UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.
La Salle’s three-game unbeaten run and 14-game winning streak dating back to last season were halted after the Lady Spikers fell to the Lady Maroons in five sets, 25-21, 20-25, 21-25, 25-20, 12-15, on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
But De Jesus graciously took the defeat and told his wards to keep their heads high despite falling to the Lady Maroons that forced a share of lead with identical 3-1 win-loss records.
“Puro motivation lang kasi first time naming naka-encounter na gusto kaming talunin eh,” De Jesus said. “Mas gusto ng kalaban manalo, kaya sabi ko sa kanila, yun ang naging factor, mas gusto nilang manalo.”
The 11-time UAAP champion coach admitted that UP brought its A-game but he regretted their squandered chance to complete a comeback as they committed 37 errors —capped by a crucial attack error from May Luna that handed the match-point for UP, 14-12, before Justine Dorog nailed the winning hit.
“A-game ng UP 'to, sabi ko sa kanila. Kung natalo natin ang UP, ibig sabihin, alam niyo na kung ano ang kaya niyo,” De Jesus said. “Kasi, mostly pag makikita niyo ang UP, ang daming errors. Sabi ko ma-minimize lang natin ang error, hindi mananalo ang UP sa atin. Sabi ko sa kanila as a motivation.”
“Pero kailangan ayusin mo talaga. Hindi pupwedeng mag-aantay ka ng errors ng kalaban bago mo talunin. Kailangan gawin mo, kung gusto mo manalo, paghirapan,“ he added.
De Jesus added that some of his wards weren’t in 100 percent condition like Des Cheng, who played through hurting shoulder, and Luna nursing a swollen face, which she got from the training after her face hit the floor hard trying to save a ball.
But it’s not an excuse as De Jesus said that they killed their own momentum.
“Nasa amin na yung momentum, kami yung pumuputol ng momentum,” he said. “Marami pang galaw doon na hindi pa halos magkakakilala pa. Yung easy ball na dadating sa amin, biglang mamamatay yung bola kasi hindi nagkakaintindihan sa loob.“
“Maganda na yung situation, biglang nawawala. Sabi ko biglang, sintunado yung tunog kumbaga sa plaka. Kailangan ayusin natin,” he added.
De Jesus also called out the seniors like Cheng, Luna, Tin Tiamzon, Michelle Cobb, Aduke Ogunsanya and Lourdes Clemente as rookie Jolina Dela Cruz carried the loads in the game with 19 points as well as newbie setter Marrione Alba, who had three service aces helping La Salle to win the first set.
“Sabi ko puro rookie yung bumubuhat sa team, paano ang mga seniors natin, ano na nangyayari? Bakit sobrang slow start tayo ata?” The 50-year-old mentor said. “Kailangan kayo mag-spark hindi yung mga rookies, sabi ko. Sinabi ko kasi, kailangan sila mag-lead ng team, kasi sila ang mga seniors.”
The longtime La Salle coach hopes that his wards would learn from this setback and bounce back against UST (2-2) on Wednesday back at the Arena in San Juan City.
“Kailangan mag-bounce back. Importante lang wag na tayong magpatalo, kung yung goal natin, kung gusto natin ma-reach ang goal natin,” De Jesus said. “Wag na muna nating isipin kung ano yung championship. Isipin natin kung paano makabalik. Hindi ako nagalit sa kanila. Walang sisi na 'O ikaw ang may kasalanan.' Basta motivation lang ang ginawa ko sa kanila.”