Preseason tilt a chance to gauge Ateneo’s progress
The Ateneo women’s volleyball team may be in its rebuilding phase, but there are no reasons to count the squad out just yet.
Flaunting a new system under new Brazilian coach Sergio Veloso, who replaced Oliver Almadro in July, the Blue Eagles are optimistic going into the Shakey’s Super League (SSL) Preseason Championship where they get to measure how their program will fare against collegiate teams including other UAAP squads.
Among the changes that Veloso implemented are in the player dynamics and fundamental skills, such as receiving form and defense, of the Blue Eagles ahead of the UAAP and the SSL, where they expect to see what aspects of their game still need working on.
But it is also an opportunity to introduce the new Blue Eagles to the team system, as the squad looks to rise after missing the Final Four of the UAAP last season.
“So far, we haven’t encountered any major hitch. Everything is going smoothly in our preparations,” Ateneo team manager Renchie Veracruz told the Inquirer. “I guess our main goal for [SSL] since everything is new is to benchmark where we are in terms of our preparation for [UAAP].”
“I am excited to see how that system will work for Ateneo and of course see if that system will fit the Philippines because [Ateneo women’s team’s] average height is the same for the national team,” Veracruz added with a mix of English.
Veloso, who is also the national coach for the men’s volleyball team currently competing for the first time after almost half a century in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, is a welcome addition to the Katipunan-based squad with his years of international experience bringing hopes of lifting Philippine volleyball.
“Coach Sergio is new to the Philippine women’s volleyball scene so whatever his learnings are from abroad that he is teaching to us in Ateneo is what I am excited to see … imagine a local collegiate team executing international skills,” he said.
“[Maybe] we can scale it down to grassroots and then eventually go up to the senior national team so it gives me personally hope that Philippine volleyball will still elevate.”
Bracketed in Pool D with Far Eastern University, Emilio Aguinaldo College and Mapua Univeristy, who is Ateneo’s opening game on Sept. 24 at FilOil EcoOil Centre, the Blue Eagles is backstopped by veteran libero Roma Doromal, Lyann de Guzman and national team middle blocker AC Miner.
“Since we’re rebuilding, we’re finding out the identity of the team as early hopefully as the tournament ends we get to know this team’s character and that’s what we’ll build up going into the UAAP,” Veracruz said.