Last year’s runner-up Ateneo de Manila University seeks to fortify its hold of solo lead when it takes on University of the Philippines (UP) in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament today at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Eagles hope to nail their seventh win in their 4 p.m. match against slumping Lady Maroons. Playing at 2 p.m. are University of Santo Tomas (UST) and University of the East (UE).
Ateneo is coming off a 26-24, 26-24, 21-25, 25-17 win over defending champion De La Salle University that sent them on top of the standings with a 6-1 mark.
Comebacking Michelle Morente, currently fourth in scoring department, has been producing big numbers for the Lady Eagles along with veteran open hitter Jhoana Maraguinot and middle blocker Bea De Leon.
Rookie of the Year candidate Kat Tolentino, middle blocker Maddie Madayag, libero Gyzelle Tan and top setter Jia Morado are also contributing well.
But the Lady Eagles will be facing a hungry Lady Maroons side.
After a 4-0 start, UP dropped its last three assignments including a 23-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 12-15 heartbreaking loss to National University last Sunday.
The Lady Maroons also lost defensive gem Princess Gaiser who suffered a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury during their game against the Lady Bulldogs.
Diana Carlos and Marian Buitre must bring their usual A-games along with Nicole Tiamzon, Katherine Bersola and Isa Molde while reserve libero Justine Dorog needs to double her efforts in filling the huge void left by Gaiser.
On the other hand, the Tigresses are fresh from morale-boosting 25-16, 21-25, 26-24, 25-20 win over Far Eastern University to improve to 4-3.
Wing spikers EJ Laure, Cherry Ann Rondina, Marivic Meneses and Chloe Cortez are UST’s leading scorers but opposite hitter Dimdim Pacres has been getting some limelight with her crucial points for the team.
UE, for its part, will rely on Shaya Adorador, Mary Anne Mendrez, Judith Abil and Roselle Baliton as the Lady Warriors aim to sustain the momentum they got from their 25-22, 20-25, 25-17, 25-18 win over Adamson University.
EMIL C. NOGUERA