NATIONAL University tries to cement its hold of second spot as it takes on dangerous Far Eastern University to kick off the second round of action in the 76th UAAP women's volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City on Saturday.
The Lady Bulldogs will again rely on sisters Dindin and Jaja Santiago as the twin towers will be tested anew by a resilient Tamaraws side led by middle blockers Geneveve Casugod and Remy Palma in their 4p.m. match-up.
Both teams are on a roll going to their second showdown this season.
NU is on a four-game winning streak to finish the first round with a 6-1 card behind unbeaten league-leader La Salle (7-0), while FEU has won its last two outings to take solo fourth at 4-3.
The Lady Bulldogs and the Lady Tams are coming off hard-earned victories over Adamson Lady Falcons to end their respective first round campaigns on a positive note.
NU coach Edjet Mabbayad said he hopes to improve on some aspects of the team’s play which when left ignored, could cost them the end game.
“Kailangan pa rin naming mag-improve sa receive. Kasi madali lang mag-opensa kapag nakaka-receive kami,” said Mabayyad moments after their 26-28, 25-21, 30-28, 25-20 victory over the Lady Falcons last Sunday.
“We need to stay focus. Maganda ang aming first round pero hindi kami puwedeng mag-relax. Mahaba pa ang tournament, parang start pa lang ito (second round),” he added.
FEU, on the other hand, registered a season-high 21 blocks in a close 25-21, 25-20, 29-31, 19-25, 15-10 victory over the same Adamson side last Wednesday.
Casugod and Palma, who combined for 15 blocks against the Lady Falcons, will be the vital cogs for the Lady Tamaraws in the middle to neutralize the Santiago sisters, who are well complemented by hitters Aiko Urdas, Myla Pablo and Mina Aganon.
“Kailangang paghandaan ang NU kasi malalaki sila,” said FEU coach Shaq delos Santos.
Meanwhile, University of Santo Tomas hopes to end an alarming four-game slump as it takes on winless University of the East in the first match at 2 p.m.
The Tigresses are fancied to win the match to open their second round bid against the Lady Warriors, owners of the league's worst record at 0-7.
At 2-5, UST needs a strong second round showing to avoid another early exit.