Barely a month after hitting the busy streets of Manila, Davao’s Lady Agilas are dazzling the fans of the Shakey’s V-league Season 11 with their exciting brand of women’s volleyball. These probinsyano upstarts have become so popular that towards the end of their epic 5-set struggle with the UAAP champions and crowd favorite Ateneo Lady Eagles, chants of “Davao, Davao, Davao” reverberated inside the Stadium. To the disappointment and dismay of Ateneo’s faithful fans. And at the end of that seesaw encounter, as the Lady Agilas celebrated their classic win over the Lady Eagles, even the fans in Ateneo-blue were seen applauding them in a sign of respect and total appreciation.
Despite an obvious disadvantage in height, the Lady Agilas’ have punished the opposition with their mix-and-match offense. With their stratospheric handicap, they have had to rely on well-executed placement and deceptive dinks to go with their power spikes. Mitch Agton lead all scorers in the classification round, a clear testament to their lethal offense.
But Mitch isn’t the only problem the opposition have to deal with. League leading setter Reynelen ‘Ratrat’ Raterta has been near flawless in distributing her acrobatic assists to the likes of other high-flying Agilas led by that bundle of energy, Princess ‘Printot’ Oliveros; skipper Venus Flores; the dusky Josie Tapic and that dangerous wingman, Angel Mae Antipuesta.
But what really keeps them apart from Manila’s best volleybelles is their exquisite defense that has them ready to dive and literally die to keep those balls alive. Their death-defying acts are spectacular highlights which have kept the spike fans at the edge of their seats.
This uncanny defense that has regularly churned out miracle saves is led by chief libero, Irish Dignadice (who had to absent herself briefly to represent Davao in the Boracay Beach Volleyball tourney along with Venus Flores); her chief sub, Cherry Anne Balse (younger sister of the legendary volleybelle, Mary Jean Balse); and Ratrat Raterta, that here-there-everywhere girl who should be a poster girl for the ‘Energizer’ battery.
With their uncompromising defense, they have developed a strong belief in their capacity to hold their own against their northern rivals. In the final set of their match against the Ateneo Lady Eagles, they trailed 8-12 and 10-13. But instead of folding up, they simply dug deeper, tightening their defense. For every killer spike that Ateneo speared across the net, the Agilas would come up with a miracle. They would ‘hold the line’ and until finally, the passionate Printot Oliveros would provide the heroics. With grit and determination, they stole the set, the match at 19-17, and the hearts of the thousands of fans watching.
Coach Shane Alagao should be given credit for developing that can-do attitude among this group of durian-eating Davaoena dreamers. Dream high and soar even higher, Lady Agilas. The sky’s the limit if you put your hearts and minds to it.
Pictures courtesy of Shakey’s V-League