Ateneo-Motolite head coach Oliver Almadro expects nothing but an all-out war when the young and energetic Lady Eagles march into battle against veteran-laden, powerhouse team Creamline Wednesday in Game 1 of the best-of-three Premier Volleyball League Season 2 Open Conference at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
"The Finals series will be tough for us. We are a collegiate team learning towards the UAAP. It will be hard series," said Almadro, whose wards collide with the Cool Smashers at 6:00 p.m. in the match that will air live on LIGA SkyCable Channel 86, LIGA HD SkyCable Channel 183 and via livestream.
The Lady Eagles took then long route to advance into the Finals, needing to complete a comeback from a 0-1 semis series deficit against seasoned but luckless BanKo.
Ateneo-Motolite dropped a five-set series opener before shocking the Perlas Spikers with a dominating sweep in Game 2 last Saturday to force a decider.
Just a night after their big win, the Lady Eagles went down to a 0-2 match hole before recovering in the third. Ateneo-Motolite survived an extended fourth set and needed to save six match points in the decider to punch the last championship seat ticket.
Almadro said that his team, which he considers as a ‘guest team’ in the season-ending conference for clubs has already overachieved with a Finals stint.
The mentor knows that they are facing a tough team composed of established stars in Alyssa Valdez, Jema Galanza, Michele Gumabao, Pau Soriano, a very skilled setter in Jia Morado and libero Mel Gohing, but he wants to treat this series as a learning experience for his team.
"We are just happy that we are here and we will give our best. Creamline is a very disciplined and experienced team. So we will learn from them," said Almadro, who will lean on solid middle blockers Maddie Madayag and Bea De Leon, hitter Kat Tolentino, Ponggay Gaston, playmaker Deanna Wong and rookie Vanessa Gandler.
The two teams split their series head-to-head with Creamline sweeping the undermanned Ateneo-Motolite, which played without Gaston, Madayag and Tolentino because of academic requirements, in the first round.
The Lady Eagles were able to get payback in the second round in Batangas in five sets with the Cool Smashers missing the services of Risa Sato.
Game 2 of the series is on Saturday at Batangas City Coliseum while Game 3, if needed, is at the FilOil Flying V Centre on Sunday.
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