DEFENDING champion Ateneo warms up for its highly-anticipated faceoff with long-time rival La Salle by taking on University of the East first on Saturday in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at The San Juan Arena.
The unbeaten Lady Eagles (5-0) squares off with the winless Lady Warriors (0-6) at 2p.m., followed by the match between Far Eastern University and skidding University of Santo Tomas at 4p.m.
Ateneo star and reigning league MVP Alyssa Valdez played down the expectations on the team’s first ever meeting with the Lady Spikers since last year’s memorable title showdown, saying the Lady Eagles’ focus right now is on the Lady Warriors.
“Hindi muna namin iniisip ang La Salle,” she said. “Ang focus namin nasa UE muna.”
The rematch between the two rival schools is set Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena, with the Lady Spikers carrying with them a league-best 6-0 record.
Meanwhile, FEU hopes to both start the year and end the first round of elimination on a high note as they tangle with the troubled Tigresses.
The Morayta-based spikers finished 2014 with a rousing 25-23, 26-24, 25-10 win over National University behind hard-hitting sophomore Bernadeth Pons, rookie Toni Basas, and Charlemagne Simborio, who combined for 41 points.
The Lady Tams hold an even 3-3 record for a three-way logjam with Adamson, and National University at third place.
The Tigresses, on the other hand, have a poor 1-5 (win-loss) slate at seventh spot.
The former perennial Final Four contenders absorbed five consecutive losses after winning the season opener over UE, 25-11, 25-12, 25-14.
UST is coming off a 23-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-22, 9-15 loss to NU.
Rookie EJ Laure had 16 points the last time, skipper Pam Lastimosa had 13, while Ria Meneses and Mela Tunay, who came off the bench, chipped in 10 markers apiece.