Gizelle Tan central to defensive plans as Ateneo eyes payback against La Salle
Alyssa Valdez and the Lady Eagles are out to avenge their emphatic loss to the La Salle Lady Spikers in the first round. Dante Peralta

ATENEO looks to regain its confidence and avenge its first round loss to fierce rival La Salle when they face off for the second time in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at the MOA Arena.

The Katipunan-based squad was heavily favored prior to their first meeting but the Lady Spikers defied the predictions as they pulled off an emphatic 25-22, 25-14, 25-18 win.

The Lady Eagles are longing for revenge, but at the same time hope to treat the rematch as a gauge for a possible Finals match-up with the Lady Spikers.

Both teams already secured a semifinal spot with Ateneo leading the pack (11-2) followed by La Salle (10-2).

“Kami din naman maghaharap sa Finals eh,” said Ateneo assistant coach Parley Tupaz. “It’s either No.1 or No. 2 kami, mamimili lang kami doon.”

“So jab-jab muna ngayon,” he added. “Sa Finals na bibitawan ang mabibigat na suntok.”

While La Salle is riding a five-game win streak and a morale boosting win against Thai team Est Cola in a tune-up game on Wednesday, Ateneo has been working on a defensive ploy precisely for the Lady Spikers.

In their first round loss, Ateneo sophomore libero Jamie Lavitoria only had four digs the entire match, while Jhoana Maraguinot and Alyssa Valdez shared in the defensive duties with five digs and eight excellent receptions, respectively.

But Tupaz assured that he and head coach Tai Bundit have already fixed what was wrong in the first round, starting with putting fourth year defense specialist Gizelle Tan at the back to man the floor.

“Basta may reception kami, maganda ang chance namin manalo,” said Tupaz. “Tan will serve as the primary libero.”

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