by: Alberto J. Pérez
October 18, 2011, the Tarzan’s of the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (UPRM), survived against the Bull’s of the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey Campus (UPR-C), in their last chance of survival of the volleyball season.
The UPRM now advances to the volleyball quarterfinals of the LAI (Interuniversity Athletic League). The Tarzans did an excellent job on the court showing very aggressive, offensive and defensive strategies.
The Bulls of the UPR-C started dominating the first set of the game, using great teamwork and focusing more on the opponent’s weakness, the right opposite, because of the absence of the Tarzans’star player Gabriel Sánchez who could not attend the game because of an injured right ankle. The UPRM Tarzans changed their strategy to emphasize the offensive plays instead of playing defensively. The strategy worked out pretty well and the Tarzans took the lead in the first set, which ended 25-23, bringing an otherwise lifeless home crowd to their feet.
By the start of the second set, Mayagüez showed the perfect example of what collegiate volleyball is. Wining the set 25-14, the Tarzans showed clearly that they playing even more aggressively and consistently than on the fist set. The Bulls totally overshadowed by the Tarzans.
In the third and last set, both teams struggled. The game started looking similar to the first set, both teams showing their strong and weak points. The Bulls opposite players were very tired and not doing their work as they were supposed to, allowing the Tarzans to take advantage of them again in this set. The set went 25-19 to the Tarzans.
The overall top striker of the UPRM team was freshman Eduardo Gonzalez who entered the court in the second set to show the crowd once again his superb skills in the sport, scoring a total of 24 points in the game. Eduardo seems to have a very bright future in the sport.
Eduardo Gonzalez had some words for the fans during a post-game interview. He said that after this important match, which basically was a life and death situation regarding the volleyball season, he feels very happy with the work done by the whole team on the court and with the game’s results because now the Tarzans can continue playing in the LAI season and not be eliminated. For the remainder of the season, the best teams from different universities await the Tarzans. Eduardo says that is not going to be an easy task to overcome them but if they play as well as they played this game and with the same discipline and strategy, the Tarzans are capable of winning the LAI championship. Eduardo Gonzalez also commented that there are two key concepts that without them is impossible to maintain focus when playing in the court. The first one is discipline. Eduardo said: “no athlete is capable of succeeding in his or her career without an established discipline.” Last but not least Eduardo said that another key concept is the teamwork and team support. “Without the support of your team and your friends it is impossible to maintain the focus on the game. It is something that everyone needs in order to succeed and take the team or your career to the next level.”
The UPR-C made an overall competent job, but not as good as it needed to be in order to walk away with the victory. On the other hand, the UPRM, with their 25-23, 25-14, 25-19 victory over the UPR-C Bulls, increased their chances of going to the finals of the LAI. The quarterfinals begin on Monday, October 31,2011. We wish the best to all of the teams.