DE LA SALLE and Ateneo de Manila battle for school pride anew as the most popular volleyball teams in the country square off today to close the eliminations of Season 79 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
At stake in the 4 p.m. match is the No. 1 spot in the Final Four. The defending champion Lady Archers and Lady Eagles are tied with 11 wins and 13 losses to seal the top 2 spots and earn a twice-to-beat advantage in the semifinals.
But the 12 p.m. match between University of Santo Tomas (UST) and back-against-the-wall National University (NU) would be equally exciting, the result of which would determine the last two seats in the Final Four.
The Tigresses (8-5) are hoping to make the semifinals for the first time in four years and snatch No. 3 in the semifinals.
But NU (7-6), is looking to forge a triple tie among the Lady Bulldogs, Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws and Tigresses. If the Lady Bulldogs win, FEU wrests third place by virtue of its best tiebreak score of 26 points while the No. 4 slot will be disputed by NU (24 points) and UST (19) in a playoff.
De La Salle has won six straigh in the second round since its 24-26, 24-26, 25-21, 17-25 first-round setback to Ateneo.
Season 78 Finals Most Valuable Player Kim Kianna Dy, who helped the Lady Spikers win their ninth title and spoiled Ateneo’s “three-peat” bid last season, is full of motivation to get the first seed and pull off a vengeful win over the Lady Eagles
“We’re excited and, at the same time, we’re motivated to bounce back from our first-round lost,” Dy said.
Ateneo Team Captain Jia Morado is aware that they are about to face a more stable and hungrier De La Salle side. But the ace setter believes that the Lady Eagles could reassert their mastery with their team work, aggressiveness and confidence.
“I think the team is more confident and aggressive now. Teamwork will help us win,” Morado said.
Back-to-back champion Ateneo (13-0) tries to clinch an outright Finals berth by completing an elimination-round sweep against second running NU (12-1) at 8 a.m. in the men’s division. Third placer FEU (7-6) and UST (6-7) clash at 10 a.m. in a no-bearing match.