Last year’s runner-up Ateneo de Manila University and title contender National University (NU) dispute the early lead in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament on Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Lady Eagles-Lady Bulldogs game is scheduled at 4 p.m. after the Adamson University-Far Eastern University match at 2 p.m.
Ateneo and NU are in a four-way tie on top with defending champion De La Salle University and University of the Philippines after winning their opening games.
The Lady Eagles had a hot start with a 25-20, 25-21, 25-22 solid win against University of Santo Tomas (UST) despite losing key players in three-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) Alyssa Valdez and former Finals MVP Amy Ahomiro.
Ateneo remains dangerous with the presence of holdovers open hitter Jhoana Maraguinot, middle blocker Bea De Leon, setter Julia Melissa Morado and libero Gizelle Tan along with 6-foot-3 rookie Kat Tolentino, and comebacking Maddie Madayag and Michelle Morente.
“We’re trying to get everyone to score and be unpredictable. It’s a great start (winning against UST) and we’re hoping that we can continue this in our next games,” said Morado who delivered 45 excellent sets against the Tigresses.
On the other hand, the Lady Bulldogs needed to survive University of the East’ s challenge before pulling off a 18-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-13 win with skipper Jaja Santiago leading the charge along with playmaker Jasmine Nabor.
Lady Bulldogs head coach Roger Gorayeb, however, is not satisfied.
“We cannot play like this if we want to go to the Finals. Everything here in the UAAP is not an easy task. We have to work hard on it,” Gorayeb stressed.
Besides Santiago, NU needs solid offense from middle hitter Risa Sato, open spikers Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas, and utility Roma Doromal.
The Lady Tamaraws and the Lady Falcons, meanwhile, are aiming to bounce back from stunning losses in their first games.
FEU bowed to La Salle, 27-29, 22-25, 23-25, while Adamson lost to UP, 18-25, 11-25, 18-25.
In the men’s division, reigning champion Ateneo takes on NU at 10 a.m.