Defending champion Ateneo de Manila University will be clashing with De La Salle University in Game 1 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 78 women’s volleyball best-of-three championship series today at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Eagles-Lady Spikers game is at 4 p.m. while the Game 1 of the men’s finals between reigning champion Ateneo and former titlist National University will be played at 12 noon at the same venue.
Two-time Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez and middle hitter Amy Ahomiro will be going all-out to close out their college careers on a high note.
“I’m not thinking about it (final year). Our focus right now is to win the crown and we’re all optimistic. We just need to play happy as always. Heart strong,” stressed Valdez.
Besides Valdez and Ahomiro, the Lady Eagles will be banking on middle blocker Bea De Leon, open hitter Jhoana Maraguinot, utility Kim Gequillana and Season 77 Best Setter Julia Melissa Morado.
“We had a hard training and I think we are now ready,” said Ateneo head coach Tai Bundit.
The Lady Spikers are raring to reclaim their glory days. The last time La Salle won the crown was in Season 75 led by then Finals MVP Michele Gumabao and team captain Aby Marano.
Veterans Ara Galang, Mika Reyes and Cyd Demecillo as well as power-hitting sophomores Mary Joy Baron and Kim Dy will provide the needed firepower for the Lady Spikers along with setter Kim Fajardo and prolific libero Dawn Macandili.
“It’s [finals]totally different. It’s not just physical game but more of mental. We need to be tough and stay focused at all times,” said La Salle mentor Ramil De Jesus.
Ateneo earned a spot in the finals by trashing University of the Philippines in the Final Four while La Salle secured the last ticket in the championship round as it survived the brave stand of Far Eastern University in the other semifinal match.
Games today (Araneta Coliseum)
12 noon Ateneo vs NU (m)
4 p.m. Ateneo vs La Salle (w)
EMIL C. NOGUERA