Prior to its Wednesday match against UE, UST was the worst serving team in the UAAP with only 1.43 service aces per set and 29 faults in just two outings.
This, not surprisingly, has become a cause for concern for head coach Kung Fu Reyes, leading him to ask his Tigresses to spend more time than usual at the service line during training.
According to UST veteran spiker Ria Meneses, the frustration and the sudden shift of focus is understandable if not a no-brainer.
“Lagi namang nakikita ng mga tao na lagi kami nagse-service errors so tinutukan namin kung saan kami madalas nagkakamali,” Meneses told FOX Sports.
“Ang focus namin sa training as in service lang. Naglalaan talaga kami ng oras para dun,” she added. “Mga 20-30 minutes puro service lang kasi normally, last 5-10 minutes lang ‘yun ng training. Ngayon, ‘yun na ang una naming ginagawa.”
And the hard work paid off as UST turned back UE in straight sets to finally barge into the win column.
While the España crew’s seven service aces (three of which came from Meneses) was already a step forward into the right direction, the Tigresses limited their service errors to just seven which is enough to put them as the second-worst serving team in the league, overtaking Adamson.
Aside from these positive developments, the Tigresses also forced UE head coach Francis Vicente to change setters halfway through as converted playmaker Roselle Baliton struggled to run after the Lady Warriors’ not-so-perfect first ball.
Giving her and her teammates a well-deserved pat on the back, Meneses shares: “Nag lessen naman ‘yung errors namin sa serve. Sa isang set yata naka-apat kami, lowest na ‘yun.”
“Lahat kasi kami eager na manalo. Binigay na lang talaga namin ang best namin para makuha ang first win,” she added.
Yet UST’s ‘best’ looked almost not good enough in the second and third sets as the Recto squad threatened to prevent the Tigresses from going home with their first win.
Luckily for Reyes and his wards, though they were outperformed in blocking (4-5) and serving (7-10), the spikers dazzled with a combined output of 39 kills to UE’s 16.
Giving her take on what could have been a catastrophic meltdown for UST, Meneses shares: “Masyado kaming nag relax yata after first set. Nung second set wala nang nag-uusap. Nagkanya-kanya kami eh. Hindi ‘yung normal na kada point nagce-celebrate.”
“Masaya naman kami kaso parang kulang pa. Hindi pa ‘yun ang talagang laro namin eh. Kailangan pa mag push sa training para maibalik namin ‘yung nilaro namin sa ibang leagues,” she added.
Though it’s true that ‘a win is a win,’ the road to returning to the Final Four is not about to get any smoother for the Tigresses as they face UP—the hottest team on the league right now after demolishing defending champion La Salle in straight sets.
For Meneses, she just aims to do her best against the Lady Maroons who defeated them twice in Season 78.
“Nakaka-challenge kasi sila eh. Kung babalikan ‘yung last season, naka 2-0 sila sa amin. Wala kaming naipanalo sa kanila. Parang ito na ‘yung time namin para makabawi sa kanila eh,” said the Bulacan native.
“Dapat maging advantage para sa amin ‘yung pagiging buo namin,” she closed.