DEFENDING champion De La Salle and rival Ateneo try to seal a repeat title showdown in the 75th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament in the Final Four on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The top-seeded Lady Archers face first-time semifinalist National University at 2 p.m., before the Lady Eagles go up against Adamson at 4 p.m., with the two arch-rivals enjoying twice-to-beat advantage.
But both NU and Adamson have other things in mind, especially the Lady Bulldogs who hope to sustain the momentum of their 25-19, 21-25, 25-16, 25-23 victory over perennial Final Four contender University of Santo Tomas last Wednesday in their playoff for the last semifinals berth.
“Number one (sa standings) ang La Salle, kung ano ang binigay naming effort sa UST dodoblehin pa namin sa kanila,” said NU senior spiker Cai Nepomuceno, who led the Lady Bulldogs with 23 points against the Tigresses.
Expected to carry the load anew for the host school along with Dindin Santiago and Aiko Urdas, Nepomuceno is confident they can put a stop to La Salle’s 13-game winning streak and deal the Lady Archers their first loss since bowing to UST in the season opener.
“Basta focus lang, tiwala sa sarili, at puso sa paglalaro, mananalo kami sa kanila,” she said.
Seeking a third straight title, the Lady Spikers are expected to make full use of their championship experience as they continue to depend on reigning MVP and tournament top blocker Abigail Maraño, together with Mika Reyes and Ara Galang.
Meanwhile, the Lady Eagles battle the Lady Falcons as they hope to regain their composure after winning only four games in the second round.
“Nasa mindset yan, dapat namin baguhin `yung nagre-relax kami. Aware naman kami doon kaya importante `yung communication namin sa loob ng court,” said Ateneo star Fillle Cainglet.
Alyssa Valdez, who singlehandedly carried the Lady Eagles with 23 points from 18 spikes, two blocks, and three service aces in their 28-26, 25-15, 25-22, victory over UST last Sunday that gave them the No. 2 spot in the semis, is expected to partner with Cainglet as they bid to lead Ateneo back to the Finals after a runner-up finish to La Salle last season.
Out to delay Ateneo’s second successive Finals appearance, though, is Adamson’s dreaded trio of Shiela Pineda, Pau Soriano and Mayeth Zapanta.
The finals will be a best-of-three affair.