Lady Archers begin defense of UAAP volleyball crown

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Defending champion De La Salle University begins its four-peat bid when it battles Ateneo de Manila University today in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball finals at the Araneta Coliseum.

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The La Salle-Ateneo match is at 4 p.m.

The Lady Archers made it to the finals after sweeping the 14-game elimination round and earned a thrice-to-beat advantage. La Salle needs two wins to claim its fourth straight title while Ateneo must win thrice to dethrone their longtime nemesis.

Ateneo, on the other hand, advanced to the finals by nipping the No. 2 seed National University (NU) in the stepladder semifinals. The Lady Eagles won twice (25-17, 12-25, 31-29, 28-26 and 25-22, 8-25, 25-19, 25-22) to oust the then twice-to-beat Lady Bulldogs.

“Everybody played good [in the semifinals]. My players worked hard in training. Their hearts are strong, we played happily in a team concept,” said Ateneo head coach Thai Anusorn Bundit, who is also the mentor of the Thailand national junior team.

The Lady Eagles will rely on Most Valuable Player (MVP) candidate Alyssa Valdez, the league’s top scorer, along with open hitter Ella de Jesus, utility spiker Michelle Morente, middle blockers Amy Ahomiro and Aerieal Patnongon, setter Julia Morado and libero Denden Lazaro.

La Salle, on the other hand, parades the reigning co-MVPs Abigail Marano and Ara Galang, the towering quicker Mika Reyes, veteran playmaker Kim Fajardo and opposite hitter Desiree Cheng and open spiker Cydthealee Demecillo.

La Salle and Ateneo met in the finals of seasons 74 and 75 with the former winning on both occasions.

In the men’s division, NU guns for its second straight title as it faces Ateneo in Game 2 of their best-of-three series. The Bulldogs won in Game 1 (29-27, 25-22, 25-22).

Games today
(Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – NU vs. ADMU
(men finals – Game 2)
4 p.m. – ADMU vs. DLSU
(women finals – Game 1)

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