National University (NU) hopes to use its edge in manpower and experience while Ateneo will lean on its big fighting heart and hustle as they open their best-of-three series for the Shakey’s V-League Season 13 Collegiate Conference today at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
With a talented core of Jaja Santiago, Jorelle Singh, Aiko Urdas, rising star Jasmine Nabor and rookie Filipino-Japanese sensation Risa Sato, the Lady Bulldogs set out for their 6 p.m. clash the slight favorites with assistant coach Edjet Mabbayad expected to exploit their edge against an over-achieving Ateneo side.
The Lady Eagles did deal the Lady Bulldogs’ lone setback in the group stages, a 25-15, 27-25, 25-17 shocker that kept the former in the quarters race, which they also hurdled then stunned the San Sebastian Lady Stags in another knockout match to barge into the semifinals.
Ateneo capped its amazing run with a 2-0 sweep of the top seeded Far Eastern University (FEU) side in the Final Four to earn a chance for a payback against NU, which swept them in the decider in last year’s finals.
“It was a learning experience for us,” said Mab¬bayad, referring to their setback to the Lady Eagles. “We’re looking forward to playing them again.”
The Lady Eagles will be more than ready to face off with the Lady Bulldogs again, their confidence boosted by a string of victories that lined them up for another crack at the championship.
“It’s all about playing with heart,” said Ateneo skipper Michelle Morente after completing their surprise sweep of FEU.
With Kim Gequillana, Ana Gopico, Bea de Leon, Pauline Gaston, Julia Morado and Juliane Samonte dishing out one big game after another, the Lady Eagles could be in for a grand finish sans their former star Alyssa Valdez.
Like Ateneo, NU also disposed of University of the Philippines (UP) in two in the Final Four, making the title series’ opener worth watching.
Game Two is set on Wed¬nesday while a deciding Game Three, if necessary, will be played on Saturday, all at Philsports.
FEU and UP also start their own series for third at 4 p.m.
Meanwhile, Ateneo guns for a sweep of NU and a second straight championship in the Spikers’ Turf Season 2 Collegiate Conference as the Eagles and the Bulldogs clash in Game Two at 12 noon.