NATIONAL University and Ateneo seek to arrange a second straight showdown for the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference crown as they aim to finish off University of the Philippines and Far Eastern University, respectively, in the Final Four at the Philsports Arena in Pasig on Wednesday.
The undermanned Lady Bulldogs survived a gritty UP side, 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 26-24, in the opener of their best-of-three semis series on Monday and the defending champions expect a tougher challenge from the Lady Maroons in their 4 p.m. encounter.
Interim coach Edjet Mabbayad has been working on an eight-player rotation with skipper Jaja Santiago and veterans Jorelle Singh, Aiko Urdas and Joy Doromal spearheading their charge with support from Risa Sato, setter Jasmine Nabor and liberos Gayle Valdez and Anne Chavez.
The Lady Bulldogs, who swept the Lady Eagles in sudden death to clinch last year’s crown in the mid-season conference, scored 62 attack points against UP’s 46 in Game One but still needed to scramble to get past their rivals, who came through with 10 blocks against NU’s six.
But the Lady Bulldogs proved steadier in the end with Santiago imposing at the net, Singh firing in clutch kills and Doromal and Sato providing solid backup. Nabor also delivered excellent playmaking along with some scoring via dumps and kills, being a former spiker.
The Lady Maroons, however, are expected to come up with the necessary adjustments with coach Jerry Yee hopeful to draw the best from the likes of skipper Kathy Bersola, Isa Molde, Nicole Tiamzon, Marian Buitre, Justine Dorog and setter Mae Basarte.
Meanwhile, the 6 p.m. duel between Ateneo and FEU is also expected to be fierce despite the Eagles’ shock 25-14, 28-26, 25-22 victory in Game One that sent the top-seed Lady Tams’ on the verge of elimination in the semis of the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
Bernadeth Pons, who sprained her ankle during warm-up and didn’t see action in Game One, is expected to suit up on Wednesday and give FEU the needed firepower and poise while the likes of Toni Rose Basas, Mary Joy Palma, Anne Guino-o, Jerrili Malabanan and setter Angela Negrito hope to step up in a bid to send the series to a deciding Game Three.
But Ateneo is all fired up to finish off FEU with skipper Michelle Morente, Bea de Leon, Kim Gequillana and Ana Gopico, along with setter Julia Morado, Pauline Gaston and Julianne Samonte playing with so much confidence after surviving a series of knockout matches to close in on another finals stint.
Meanwhile, the NU-UP match will be aired on a delayed basis while the Ateneo-FEU duel will be telecast live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 and S + A HD 166 although the two games can be viewed live via streaming on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/vleague, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Games Wednesday (semis)
4 p.m. – NU vs UP
6 p.m. – Ateneo vs FEU