The National University weren’t getting any help from their liberos, so they decided to play without one.
Although they looked like a volleyball team playing in the 90’s — way before the addition of liberos — the Lady Bulldogs persisted. And after five hard-fought sets, the Lady Bulldogs were able to complete a season sweep of the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles.
Although his team struggled in some parts of the match, NU head coach Roger Gorayeb was glad to see his team hold on until the end.
“Paninindigan ko talaga [‘yung walang libero]. Nagkaroon kasi kami ng… parang sinuspinde ko sila,” he opened up about liberos Gayle Valdez and Joni Chavez.
“Sabi ko, kung ‘di kayo magbabago walang mangyayari sa inyo.'”
Valdez, in particular, stepped up in the nick of time when inserted into the game for the mis-receiving Audrey Paran.
“Pag naglalaro sila ng pangit at nakikita ng maraming tao, mapapahiya lang sila,” the decorated mentor pointed out.
“Mahirap kung isa-subject ko sila sa ganiyang ridicule.
“Kaya kailangan talaga muna nila ulit ipakita sa akin at sa teammates nila na kaya nila mag-contribute,” added Gorayeb.
Aside from that, middle hitters Jaja Santiago and Risa Sato played the entire match and were huge factors in the win.
As the only team to win over Ateneo this season, NU gained a momentary cushion over fellow Final Four aspirants University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, and Far Eastern University — their last remaining opponents in the round.
With a 7-4 record, Gorayeb knows getting one more win could propel them into the post-season.
“Malaking bagay sa amin ‘yan. Sa ngayon kasi kahit sinong team talunin [namin], malaking bagay sa amin, gusto namin ‘yun mangyari.
“Kinapos kami noong una kaya pinipilit namin maka-accumulate na panalo para mag third or fourth. Bahala na si Batman pagdating sa dulo,” said Gorayeb, who is looking for that elusive UAAP crown.