[Editor's note: This is the fourth of our eight-part preview for the coming UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament]
Last Season: 5th Place (6-8)
Key Holdovers: Eli Soyud, Bern Flora, Chiara Permentilla, Lea Perez, Thang Ponce
Departures: Jema Galanza, Mylene Paat, Fen Emnas, Jellie Tempiatura
Newcomers: MJ Igao, Trisha Genesis, Krich Macaslang
Head Coach: Airess Padda (3rd Season)
ADAMSON head coach Airess Padda may not be putting pressure on the Lady Falcons to achieve a Final Four appearance right away, but don’t think they can't get there eventually this UAAP Season 81.
Last season saw a banner year for Adamson led by skipper Jema Galanza, opposite spiker Mylene Paat and setter Fen Emnas as the squad was favored to make it to the Final Four and even the finals.
But pressure, inexperience, and immaturity took the better of them, falling short of a place in the Final Four.
Padda considers this year as a make-or-break season, but does not want to put pressure on her current squad by telling them they have to be the next Galanza, Paat or Emnas and take it one game at a time.
“I’ve decided not to pressure them this year with the Final Four cloud hanging over our heads,” Padda said. “Because I learned my lesson. I think last year did a lot more damage to our team than good.”
“This year has been really about focusing one game at a time and just playing hard, tough, and pamilya,” added the American coach.
“If we focus on that, go out there, play 110 percent, play tough wasn’t about being physical but being tough mentally and stick together as a family on the court then I don’t think anything can break us and I think that’s what will get us to the Final Four.”
Despite losing three key players, Padda remained confident that her system is fully instilled in her players, especially by graduating team captain Eli Soyud, Joy Dacoron, Bern Flora, Chiara Permentilla, Thang Ponce, rookie Trisha Genesis, and newcomer setter MJ Igao.
In her third year, Padda believes that they’re definitely not the same team last year with the troika of Galanza, Paat and Emnas but definitely not the same in her first season, where they were cellar-dwellers.
“I think our edge, this year they’ve been under me the longest and I really feel like the system is in more tact than it’s ever been,” Padda said. “I feel with the tools we’ve been given over the last two years they’re finally starting to gel and come together.”
Adamson’s inconsistencies and weaknesses were exposed in the PVL where they settled for Bronze in the Collegiate Conference, losing to eventual champion UP in the semifinals after a 7-0 elimination sweep and had a winless 0-14 campaign in the Open Conference against club teams.
“So for us in the first PVL conference we did well, we didn’t do what we set out to do which is win a championship but third place is not bad then we go to the Open where we hit all our breaking points, all these injuries,” Padda said.
“It was a tough conference for us so experiencing losing, well not really losing yourself, not losing what the goal is, the goal wasn’t to win every single game, it was to compete and get our underclassmen experience.”
But for open spikers Permentilla and Flora, it doesn’t mean they will be counted out as contenders.
“Hindi ibig sabihin non wala na kaming laban doon kami natuto na magrely more on each other, mag trust more na alam naming kakayanin namin,” Permentilla said.
“Gusto namin makapasok sa Final Four para mapatunayan namin sa mga tao at tsaka kay coach na kaya naman namin,” Flora added. “Sobrang confident na maabot namin yung Final Four.”