ATENEO has an edge with its balanced lineup, while La Salle has the advantage with tall powerful hitters, according to coaches of different volleyball teams.
The Lady Eagles and Lady Spikers clash anew for the title in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament starting on Tuesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ateneo is looking to get back on top after a runner-up finish, while La Salle is eyeing back-to-back titles.
Spin.ph asked the some of the country's seasoned and multi-titled coaches regarding their thoughts on the sixth Ateneo-La Salle title showdown in a row.
Coach Nes Pamilar of PVL club Power Smashers says the teams’ starters are even, but Ateneo has more reliable reserves.
“Ang tingin ko dyan, kung tao-tao magbabalanse pero nakikita ko deeper ang bench ng Ateneo. Kasi nakikita ko, inexpose ni coach Tai ang mga pamalit eh,” said Pamilar, architect of Letran’s dominance in the NCAA.
“So binibigyan niya ng kumpyansa ang lahat ng players so hindi na sila magugulat kapag pinasok sa finals kaya doon magkakaroon ng depirensiya,” he added.
Among the backups who have displayed the steely nerves of veterans are rookie Jules Samonte and sophomore libero Deanna Wong
“Pag tumagal ang laro doon mo makikita ang palitan ng tao, tignan mo si Samonte maganda ang laro tapos ’yung isang libero ginamit na kaya kapag ginamit ’yan may kumpyansa na,” said Pamilar.
Former national coach Roger Gorayeb, who steered the Lady Eagles to two finals appearances in his five years at Ateneo from 2009, believes his former wards will be able to carry the team to the title again.
“Syempre doon ako sa (Ateneo), andoon pa ang mga player ko eh,” said Gorayeb. “Ang huling player ko kasi na nirecruit dyan sina Jia (Morado), si (Michelle) Morente, si (Jhoana) Maraguinot kaya hangga’t nandyan pa ang mga batch na ‘yan, diyan pa rin ako.”
“Iba din kasi ang spirit nila kapag sila na lang ang magkalaban eh hindi na ‘yung ordinaryong laro lang ok lang,” he added.
Sammy Acaylar, the national men’s volleyball mentor and many-time NCAA champion coach, believes La Salle has the advantage with a strong squad led by fourth year opposite spiker Kim Dy, who stands 5 feet 8, and middle blockers Majoy Baron and Aduke Ogunsanya, both 5’9.
Acaylar also noted the Lady Spikers has the advantage of Kim Fajardo boosting the attacking options if coach Ramil de Jesus decides to field in sophomore setter Michelle Cobb.
“Ang La Salle kumpleto sa lahat ng posisyon, nakita ko na meron silang lahat ng kailangan nila,” said Acaylar. “Tapos ang chemistry nila maganda kaya ‘yun ang tingin ko advantage nila.”
Meanwhile, University of the East and women’s national team coach Francis Vicente picked neither.
“For me its all about the cohesiveness of each team, kailangan maasahan lahat kapag pinasok at gagawa para makapuntos at makacontribute sa hinahangad nilang panalo,” he said.