One game. Sudden death. National U has the depth and momentum but Ateneo boasts of a gem of a hitter who can carry a team to a championship.
But in a winner-take-all match, stats and a team’s make-up often take a backseat to execution.
The Lady Bulldogs did that in Game 2 and came away with a surprisingly one-sided 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 victory that left the best-of-three series tied and the fans craving for more volley action that has been the mark of the Shakey’s V-League.
Gametime is at 12:45 p.m. at The Arena in San Juan City with the match to be aired live on GMA News TV Channel 11 and via streaming on www.v-league.ph, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Expect Ateneo and Alyssa Valdez to rebound strong from that recent setback but expect National U to likewise step up its attack even more, guaranteeing a slambang duel for the hotly contested Season 12 Collegiate Conference crown in the league sponsored by Shakey’s and presented by PLDT Home Ultera.
“They jumped the gun on us early in Game 2 and we never recovered,” said Ateneo assistant coach Parley Tupaz, referring to their last week’s loss that saw Valdez struggle for just nine hits. “We need to play with more energy.”
Roger Gorayeb does believe the Lady Eagles, his former wards, will bounce back but the NU coach remains confident of the Lady Bulldogs’ chances coming off that morale-boosting victory that negated Ateneo’s 25-19, 25-13, 25-21 romp in Game 1.
“This will be anybody’s game and I expect both teams to go all-out not only for the championship, but also for the fans,” said Gorayeb, who actually lost to NU in the 2013 finals while handling Ateneo.
The Lady Bulldogs virtually silenced the predominantly pro-Ateneo crowd the last time out, dishing out a superb all-around game anchored sisters Jaja Santiago and Dindin Manabat, Myla Pablo, Jorelle Singh, Aiko Urdas and veteran playmaker Rubie de Leon to fashion out the straight-set win.
Manabat, who missed the opener of the title series backed by Mikasa and Accel, provided not only the firepower and poise but also the defensive might, coming through with five blocks that stymied the vaunted Ateneo attack anchored on Valdez.
The Lady Bulldogs also pounced on the Lady Eagles’ poor service reception all game that had them scoring 11 aces.
Still, Tupaz believes Valdez will redeem herself, along with the rest of the squad, including Amy Ahomiro, Jhoanna Maraguinot, Kim Gequillana, Bea de Leon and setter Gizelle Tan, who produced just 17 excellent sets against De Leon’s 28.
“There’ll be no changes as far as our gameplan is concerned. We just have to execute well,” said Tupaz, who will still bank on head coach Tai Bundit’s “play happy” brand of play.
Bundit, who left before Game 1 to honor a previous commitment back home in Thailand, was reportedly set to arrive yesterday in time for the rubber match but others said the Thai mentor won’t be back till Tuesday.
Whatever, Gorayeb won’t be a bit surprised if his counterpart would show up or not. After all, he and his gutsy Lady Bulldogs have Ateneo and the Lady Eagles all figured out.