NATIONAL University (NU) and De La Salle University begin their best-of-three series today, June 18, for the championship of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 84 women's volleyball tournament at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Game time is at 5 p.m.
The undefeated Lady Bulldogs and the Lady Spikers finished as the top two teams after the elimination round.
NU swept the elims, 14-0, beating all their opponents including La Salle twice, to clinch an outright Finals berth. This is the school's first Finals appearance in 65 years.
The Lady Bulldogs, the fourth team in the Final Four era to make a 14-game elims sweep, last played on June 9 when they blanked University of Santo Tomas, 25-22, 29-27, 25-17, to snare the first Finals spot.
But the job's not done for NU led by Bella Belen and Alyssa Solomon.
"At this point, my message to the players is to expect (tough) games like this (against UST), too intense and pressure-packed. What I remind the team is the job's not done yet," said Lady Bulldogs head coach Karl Dimaculangan.
NU has had La Salle's number this season, sweeping the latter twice. The first came on May 10 in the first round, 25-21, 25-20, 25-17, and the second on May 26 in the second round, 25-21, 25-20, 25-17.
The Lady Spikers are unfazed, though.
"Well, going into the game, I think the playing field is level. I don't think their 14-0 is going to matter. We're here in the finals, we play best-of-three, start from zero, we're going to race each other for the two wins," said La Salle assistant coach Benson Bocboc.
After posting a 10-4 record and finishing second in the elimination round, the Lady Spikers, spearheaded by Jolina de la Cruz, Fifi Sharma, and Alleiah Malaluan, earned a win-once and twice-to-beat incentive in the second phase of the stepladder semifinals.
They took advantage of that as the Ramil de Jesus-coached squad dethroned rival Ateneo de Manila University, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23, in the semis on Thursday to make the Big Dance for the first time since 2018 when La Salle clinched a three-peat.