NATIONAL University and Ateneo meet in a win-or-go-home battle with no less than a berth to the 76th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Finals at stake when the two teams tangle on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is at 4 p.m. with the winner advancing to the championship round against three-time champion De La Salle, which advanced outright to the finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage after a sweep of the two-round eliminations.
Despite suffering a 17-25, 25-12, 29-31, 26-28 loss to the Lady Eagles in their first meeting in the stepladder semifinals last Wednesday, Lady Bulldogs mentor Edjet Mabbayad remained positive about his team’s chances.
“Hindi pa naman tapos ang season eh, natalo lang kami, may Game Two pa,” said Mabbayad shortly after the team’s post-game huddle.
But the youthful coach reminded his team not to waste the golden opportunity of making it back to the Finals after 60 years of waiting.
“Siguro na-overwhelm sila (NU) ng twice-to-beat advantage namin,” he said. “Expected namin na mag-all out sila (Ateneo) syempre kami rin, kalimutan na ang talo at focus na para sa Sabado.”
Ateneo, on the other hand, is gunning for a third straight Finals appearance after twice losing to the Lady Spikers in their two previous title series.
Aside from Alyssa Valdez, the Lady Eagles are leaning on Ella de Jesus, who provided 16 points in their game against the Lady Bulldogs, rookie Michelle Morente, and A Ahomiro.
The Finals is set on March 5, also at the Big Dome.