The battle for the Shakey’s V-League Season 10 First Conference crown comes down to a deciding third game today (Sunday) where records, stats and all the other stuff will be mere footnotes in a sudden death tipped to go down-to-the-wire.
As how Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb puts it, it will all boil down to which team wants it more.
“Throw away the individual and team statistics, our past games, our win-loss records because all these will not matter in sudden death games. Trust me, I’ve been to these kinds of games before,” said Gorayeb.
Still, National U coach Edjet Mabbayad wants to do it systematically, stressing the need to improve on their service and reception, which he believes are key to their dream championship run.
“Our solid reception led to attacking opportunities and although we had less (service) aces than them, we served accurately,” said Mabbayad, referring to their Game Two win last Sunday that forced this do-or-die match.
So much is at stake in the 3 p.m. duel at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City, including pride, honor and prestige.
The Lady Eagles are raring to extend their reign in the conference they ruled the last two editions while the Lady Bulldogs are out to stake their claim as the top women’s volley team in the land today.
Ateneo pounced on National U’s championship jitters to take the opener of the best-of-three series in three. But the Lady Bulldogs settled down in time and showed their true might to fashion out a similar straight-set win.
The match will be aired live on GMA News TV Channel 11 starting at 1 p.m. for the UST-Adamson duel for third, also a rubber match.
The pair of sudden deaths actually comes a fitting ending to what had been a blockbuster staging of the league’s milestone 10th season, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
While NU has the proverbial momentum—and firepower—in its bid for a breakthrough, Ateneo hopes to lean on its experience and poise to nail another championship in the league backed by Mikasa and Accel.
Ateneo wants no less than a championship to cap a dream three-peat, even tapping San Sebastian resident import Jeng Bualee late in the conference to bolster its frontline rotation that already includes Alyssa Valdez, Rachel Anne Daquis and Fille Cainglet.
But NU has established itself as the league’s emerging power, sweeping its way to the quarters and into the semis behind the 6-2 Dindin Santiago and her equally solid spiking teammates Aiko Urdas, Myla Pablo and Carmina Aganon.
Young Jaja Santiago is a work in progress, her mere 6-4 frame enough to intimidate rivals or force them to change their shots whenever she’s in front of the net.
Focus will also be on the setters of both teams—Ateneo’s Jem Ferrer and NU’s Rubie de Leon, who have been very consistent in setting up plays for their respective team’s designated hitters.
But for many, it will all come down to how Gorayeb and Mabbayad would react to each other’s adjustments.