TWO old foes meet again for a shot at collegiate glory.
National University's emergence as a new power in college volleyball will be put to the test in a UAAP Season 84 Finals rematch against the resurgent De La Salle Lady Spikers for the inaugural Shakey's Super League (SSL) crown.
The two teams will face off for Philippine volleyball's newest prize on Saturday, Nov. 19 at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Here's what you need to know about the highly anticipated matchup.
QUEST FOR SUPREMACY
After a perfect run to the UAAP title, the Lady Bulldogs are looking to repeat over their Taft counterparts and reign supreme over the SSL's 18-team field.
From their opening UAAP match in May to their most recent semifinal triumph over UST, NU currently rides a 24-game win streak with only six sets conceded in total.
However, complacency is never an option for champion coach Karl Dimaculangan, who sees room for improvement for her golden girls.
"May mga kailangan pa kami siguro na i-correct or i-improve, lalo na yung mga silly mistakes namin. 'Yun yung kailangan naming alisin para makapaglaro kami lalo nang maayos," said Dimaculangan.
With a near-sweep of the UAAP individual accolades and a two-game thrashing of the Lady Spikers in the finals, the next piece of collegiate silverware now beckons NU's rising stars.
LA SALLE OUT FOR REVENGE
For the last decade, La Salle has asserted its mastery of storied rival Ateneo with 11 consecutive wins. But a new nemesis has emerged for the 11-time UAAP champions.
In four previous meetings with NU, the green-and-white went 0 for 4 without winning a single set.
For a team that had a dominant spell of its own in the collegiate ranks, losing is never taken lightly, let alone a string of defeats against a single opponent.
Hence, beyond a pursuit of redemption, this grudge match is a mission for the Lady Spikers to prove that with their team's winning culture, form is temporary and class will always be permanent.
RISING STARS COLLIDE
With NU losing a key defensive asset in Ivy Lacsina and DLSU playing in the absence of veteran mentor Ramil de Jesus, the 'next woman up' mentality applies for both sides.
For a NU-Nazareth juniors' program that aided the rise of Ateneo's Faith Nisperos and La Salle's Thea Gagate, its golden reputation as volleyball star-makers has been validated yet again by ace spikers Vangie Alinsug and Myrtle Escanlar.
Both were instrumental in NU's SSL campaign thus far with multiple double-digit outings and Player of the Game plums. Their emergence did not go unnoticed by reigning UAAP rookie-MVP Bella Belen.
"Alam naman po naming kaya rin nila kasi parehas naman po kami ng training kaya hindi rin po kami nagkakalayo sa skills," Belen said.
On the other hand, the youthful leadership and lethal offense of super rookie Angel Canino has rejuvenated La Salle.
Canino, a former U-23 national team stalwart, brings the same winning mentality that once lifted DLSU to unequalled heights.
"Siyempre aabangan niyo kung paano maglaro yung isang Lady Spiker sa loob ng court. Aabangan niyo kung paano yung angas sa loob ng court, paano ngumiti yung isang Lady Spiker, paano pumalo, paano mag-serve. Aaabangan niyo po yun sa akin at sa buong team," said Canino.