Defending champion De La Salle University and last year’s runner-up Ateneo de Manila University will be disputing the women’s volleyball title in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 76 rubber match today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The highly anticipated Game 4 of the La Salle-Ateneo game is set at 4 p.m.
Ateneo took the series opener, 17-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-20, before La Salle came up with a 25-14, 25-20, 19-25, 26-24 win in Game 2. Ateneo scored a nerve-wracking 25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 16-25, 17-15 victory in Game 3 to force a winner-take-all game.
The Lady Eagles must win thrice to dethrone the Lady Spikers.
La Salle, which got a thrice-to-beat edge for sweeping the 14-game elimination round, needs only two wins to retain its title.
“We’ll bounce back,” declared graduating La Salle team captain Aby Marano, the Season 75 co-Most Valuable Player (MVP).
Marano must contribute in scoring department following her eight-point showing in their five-setter loss in Game 3. Open spiker Ara Galang led the Lady Spikers with 28 points, 25 digs and seven receptions while Cydthealee Demecillo and Mika Reyes contributed a combined 23-point output.
La Salle also needs solid games from libero Cienne Cruz and setter Kim Fajardo, who hold the two essential positions to complete a clean attack against the determined Ateneo side.
Ateneo, on the other hand, has its own scoring machine in Alyssa Valdez—the reigning Season MVP, Best Scorer and Best Server.
Valdez showed an MVP-like performance the last time out with 22 points. She also got ample support from middle hitter Amy Ahomiro and utility spiker Michelle Morente, who both scored 18 points, and rookie playmaker Julia Morado, who delivered 48 excellent sets.
“We’re playing as a team. We need to believe in ourselves that we can do it. We’ll go for it [title]. Whatever happens in Game 4, we’ll accept it. God has purpose for everything that’s happening,” said Valdez.
La Salle is looking for its fourth straight title and ninth overall while Ateneo wants to claim its first-ever women’s title since joining the league in 1978.