Despite a newly-retooled lineup of collegiate superstars, Motolite failed to go far in the 2019 PVL Reinforced Conference as they finished fifth in the tournament.
Mainly comprised of former and current players from the University of the Philippines and Adamson University, the team finished with a 3-7 record, just a win short of at least forcing a playoff for fourth place to enter the semifinals.
Throughout the conference, Motolite struggled to get their groove as a collective based on unfamiliarity, with most of them having to adjust to playing alongside each other as opposed to being rivals like in the UAAP.
The team also saw leadership difficulties with volleyball superstar Myla Pablo, the most experienced player in the team, seeing less playing time in the court due to her recurring back injury.
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) June 19, 2019
In this conference, foreign reinforcements Channon Thompson and Krystle Esdelle did their best to fulfill that role, showing the way with their scoring prowess and individual experiences, having both played for the Trinidad and Tobago’s national women’s volleyball team.
Their strong performances are evident in the statistics after the elimination round. Thompson ended up as the tournament’s best scorer with 214 points — just two points ahead of Petro Gazz’s Wilma Salas — on top of finishing in the top ten of all scoring departments (second in serving, fourth in spiking, seventh in blocking).
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) June 2, 2019
Esdelle, meanwhile, finished as the ninth best scorer with 127 points, third best blocker, and seventh best attacker.
However, Motolite’s new supporting cast failed to show up as needed.
Only Adamson libero Thang Ponce was one of the few bright spots from the local players, finishing second in the digging department and fourth in receiving.
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) June 23, 2019
Diliman standouts Isa Molde and Tots Carlos didn’t bring their usual numbers in the conference, finishing as the next best scorers for Motolite with 42 and 41 points, respectively after the elimination round. UP middle blocker Marist Layug and former Adamson opposite spiker Eli Soyud, meanwhile, finished with 31 points each.
These numbers might be attributed to the fact that Motolite frequently shuffled their lineup with each game, looking to find the right combination to level with the competition. This resulted to most of the players having to share available playing time, with coaches Airess Padda and Godfrey Okumu also adjusting with their current and former players to a new system.
— ABS-CBN Sports (@abscbnsports) June 8, 2019
As a team, Motolite showed their prowess in blocking and receiving, finishing second in both departments with 2.42 average blocks per set and 35.23 percent receiving efficiency. Other than that, the team placed in the lower half for the remaining skill departments.
On paper, Motolite is a strong team with collegiate superstars on their roster. However, their inexperience with playing together and especially on a professional tournament has cost them the conference. Despite all this, it was a good showing for a young and newly-retooled team as they got their feet wet and had the opportunity to evaluate what went right and wrong for them in the recent competition.
Without any guest players to carry them in the nearing Open Conference, it is imperative for the mainstays to step up and use the experience they got from the previous tournament to attain success this time around.
Motolite seeks for a better showing in the 2019 PVL Reinforced Conference as they gun for their first championship in the league.