LA Salle coach Ramil de Jesus sees only one problem area for Ateneo, but he doesn’t consider it an advantage for his squad.
De Jesus explained that Ateneo has solid players in all positions, slightly weakened only due to the absence of middle blocker Bea de Leon because of a finger injury.
But Ateneo has managed to do well during the two weeks that De Leon has been sidelined — it is still uncertain when she will be back — as the Lady Eagles moved one win away from completing a sweep of the two-round eliminations and an outright finals berth.
Now De Jesus, an eight-time champion coach, braces for a tough match as Ateneo and La Salle clash in their final elimination round match on Wednesday in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ateneo guns for its 14th win in as many matches, while La Salle tries to prevent the sweep.
[See De Jesus says La Salle Lady Spikers on a mission to deny Ateneo a sweep of the elims]
“Sa harap siguro in terms of front line doon lang magkakaroon ng problema (ang Ateneo),” said De Jesus. “Sabi ko nga wala naman ako nakikitang advantage.”
La Salle's middle blocker Mika Reyes also said she is not taking things lightly, even as her Ateneo counterpart remains out.
“We’re ready,” Reyes declared.
“Ayaw ko kasi maging complacent sa mga bagay,” she added. “Ayaw ko mag-expect na hindi sila complete. Hindi namin sila mamaliitin basta naka-ready lang kami.”
De Jesus also noted that Alyssa Valdez does her job well as a skipper, her energy rubbing off on her teammates.
“Kasi knowing Ateneo very confident ang lahat ng players, mataas ang kumpyansa ng lahat ng players, lalo na ang nagli-lead katulad ni Alyssa so walang magiging advantage sa amin,” he said.
“Kahit nasaan siya sa front line o back line magaling, tapos ganoon pa kagaling ang setter mo, ganoon pa kagaling ang libero mo," said the La Salle coach, citing what libero Denden Lazaro and sophomore setter Jia Morado have brought to the Ateneo squad.
Ateneo (13-0) and La Salle (12-1) have secured the first two spots in the semifinals, while five teams are still vying for the last two spots.
National University (6-6) is running third, Adamson and University of the Philippines share the fourth spot (5-7), University of Santo Tomas (5-8) is in sixth followed by Far Eastern University (4-8).
NU, Adamson, UP and FEU still have two more games left to play in the elimination round, while UST, Ateneo and La Salle have one match remaining.
"Lahat ng teams ikakatuwa pag natalo namin sila (Ateneo). 'Yun na lang ang motivation namin,” said Reyes.