The long wait is over. Finally.
The defending champions kicked off their campaign for an unprecedented 4peat last Sunday with a 4set victory over the fancied Ateneo Lady Eagles.
Going into this game, some people were vocal in saying that the defending champions were not the favorite to win the game. Surprised? It’s not often that the Lady Spikers are considered as underdogs, but in this case they probably were because 1) they lost 3 mainstays and 2 very capable relievers from last year’s team, 2) they hadn’t participated in any significant pre-season tournaments, 3) while Ateneo and the other schools (save for NU) joined the semi-pro tournaments, 4) they had a lot of rookies, and 5) only 5 holdovers had seen any meaningful action last season – Des Cheng, Mich Cobb, May Luna, Aduke Ogunsanya, and Tine Tiamzon; Norielle Ipac and CJ Saga only so spot minutes, and 5) Mich Morente, who could have mitigated the loss of KKD at the opposite position, wasn’t included in the lineup.
Ateneo had looked formidable, placing 2nd in a PVL tournament against semi-pro teams. In contrast, the Lady Spikers didn’t play in any big tourneys since bagging their 3peat last season.
Ramil started with rookie Jolina dela Cruz at opposite, Des Cheng and May Luna at open, CJ Saga at libero, and the middle tandem of Aduke Ogunsanya and Des Clemente. Hardly a strong lineup, given the situation and the opponent. Yet the Lady Spikers out-steadied, out-foxed, and out-played the supposedly more solid ALE.
Talking about foxes, Sly Fox is how someone described Ramil. And he admitted as much, saying that their non-participation in tournaments allowed them the element of surprise, while he had a good look at the other teams when they played in those offseason tournaments.
Ramil was surprisingly cool last Sunday, even when Ateneo handily took the 3rd set. He fielded two rookies in Jolina and Marionne Alba, plus Des Clemente in limited minutes. He kept Tine Tiamzon on the bench for most of the game. During timeouts, he never lost his cool, and his instructions were less rapid-fire than usual. He had a plan, and knew what to expect from his team. All he asked them to do was execute. And they did.
MIch Morente was left out of the lineup, surprising some. But it’s really not surprising when you consider the facts (not fake news). She was enrolled in La Salle under an F2 scholarship, and there were no expectations that she would be on any La Salle lineup. She actually did well academically, making the Dean’s List in the 3rd term last year. The Brothers were prevailed upon to allow her to wear the La Salle uniform in this year’s beach volleyball tournament, where she collaborated with Tine Tiamzon to snatch the silver.
This season, the UAAP volleyball tournament coincided with the first PSL tournament, preventing F2 from including any active Lady Spikers in their lineup, so Ogunsanya, Cheng, Tiamzon, Luna, and Clemente were out of the first PSL tournament. KKD was injured. Morente was needed by F2. It’s as simple as that. She could have played one year for the Lady Spikers, but the timing would not permit it.
There is only one previous instance of an Ateneo athlete transferring to La Salle to wear the green jersey in UAAP competition – BJ Manalo. He helped La Salle take a title, but was terribly bashed and called all sorts of names by the blue diehards. Today, Mich Morente is receiving the kind of same abuse from those who refuse to accept that she could change schools. We’ve had La Sallians move on to the blue side, but they never received the same treatment from our side. It seems that for some, the “Men for Others” is only applicable when it translates to “Men for Us”. I’m glad that these noisy few are not truy representative of the vast majority of our friends, brothers and sisters in Katipunan.
Mich Morente has been a proud member of the Ateneo Lady Eagles, and her contributions were key to the success of the ALE while she played for them. Today, she’s a proud La Sallian, and has a UAAP beach volleyball silver medal to add to her collection. She will always be an Atenean, just as she will always be a La Sallian. Let’s celebrate her dual “citizenship” in both communities. Mich, thank you for your service to our school, brief as it may have been.