ATENEO de Manila University tries to move closer in claiming the first twice-to-beat slot in the Final Four as it plays National University (NU) in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament today at The Arena in san Juan City.
Hoping to avenge their lone loss of the season, a 17-25, 13-25, 25-19, 27-29 defeat to the Lady Bulldogs last February 8, the Lady Eagles are now a different team after the defeat and looking good in the scheduled 4 p.m. match.
University of the Philippines (UP), stung by last Sunday’s straight set setback to defending champion De La Salle University, tries to wheel back in Final Four contention against also-ran Adamson University at 2 p.m.
On an eight-game winning streak and holding the league’s best record, Ateneo will bank on playmaker Jia Morado and main hitters Jho Maraguinot, Michelle Morente, Bea de Leon, Kat Tolentino and Ana Gopico, who is given more court time by coach Tai Bundit.
“We’re preparing every game. One game at a time,” said Lady Eagles assistant mentor Sherwin Meneses.
Ateneo’s character showed in last Saturday’s 25-20, 25-22, 17-25, 21-25, 15-8 win over Far Eastern University, as the two-time champions displayed steely resolve during crunch time.
NU, currently tied with idle University of Santo Tomas in third at 6-4, still hammered out a 25-15, 25-21, 22-25, 25-21 win against University of the East despite the benching of two liberos in the fourth frame.
Once the Lady Bulldogs figured out their defensive deficiencies, main hitters Jaja Santiago, Risa Sato and Jorelle Singh will have no problem in scoring from Jasmine Nabor’s feeds that will make life hard for the Lady Eagles.
The Lady Bulldogs, who are two games behind the Lady Spikers and are only up by a full game over joint fifth placers Lady Tamaraws and the Lady Maroons, are simply focusing on keeping their Final Four hopes alive.
UP, which lost five of its last six matches after a 4-0 matches, is simply glad to get this needed break. But the Lady Falcons should not be complacent of the Lady Falcons, who were able to snatch a set in last Saturday’s 12-25, 18-25, 25-19, 22-25 loss to the Tigresses.
Reigning men’s champion Ateneo, three wins away from claiming an outright Finals berth, takes on Adamson University at 10 a.m., right after the FEU-UE match at 8 a.m.