Ateneo stakes winning run vs. revenge-seeking La Salle
Mark Escarlote on Feb 27, 2016 06:26 AM
Ateneo de Manila and La Salle renew their rivalry on Saturday in a rematch of last year's Finals.
Defending champion Ateneo de Manila hopes to complete a sweep of the first round of eliminations while archrival De La Salle is out to get the long overdue revenge on Saturday as the two powerhouse teams go on a collision course in a rematch of last year’s Finals in the 78th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Big Dome.
Unbeaten in six games of the season, the Lady Eagles want to once again stamp their mastery over the Lady Spikers whom they defeated in their last six meetings, including two in Season 77’s championship round that completed Ateneo’s clean sweep of the 16-game tournament last year.
In the Finals last season, DLSU skipper Ara Galang was sidelined by a left knee injury. Now fully recovered and in tip-top shape, Galang’s presence will give the Lady Spikers the added firepower they missed the last time they went inside the court to face the Lady Eagles, making the 4:30 p.m. joust an open contest that is expected to draw another sellout crowd.
The marquee match will air live on ABS-CBN Sports+Action Channel 23, ABS-CBN Sports+Action HD Channel 166 and via livestream at sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/uaap.
Reigning two-time Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez, who is in her last tour of duty for the blue and white, said that though the game is the most anticipated and hyped duel, they want to treat it as a normal game with the same goal of getting the W.
"Iba talaga any game kapag Ateneo-La Salle," said Valdez. "It's just another game for us."
The Lady Eagles have won 24 straight victories dating back to Ateneo’s Game 3 and 4 wins against the then thrice-to-beat DLSU in Season 76. The Katipunan-based squad is playing solidly this season with Valdez, who is averaging 17 points in their first six outings, getting heavy support from the frontline with Amy Ahomiro, Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag, currently the league-leader in service aces, together with Jhoana Maraguinot and playmaker Jia Morado.
Jamie Lavitoria and Gizelle Tan are also holding the fort on floor defense, perfectly filling the void left by the departure of prized libero Denden Lazaro.
Ateneo is fresh from a quick 25-12, 25-10, 25-10 demolition of University of the East last Wednesday.
The Lady Spikers are also playing on a high level.
Except for a tough four-set loss against National University, DLSU is coming off back-to-back victories with a week's rest.
Head coach Ramil De Jesus can also match the depth of the Lady Eagles’ roster, in fact, the multi-titled mentor has the luxury of rotating his starting six in DLSU’s previous assignments.
Aside from Galang, the Taft-based squad can also bank on kill blocks leader Majoy Baron, Mika Reyes, Carol Cerveza, heady setter and leading playmaker Kim Fajardo and freshman Ernestine Tiamzon.
"Pipilitin naming makasabay sa kanila at less errors para maganda ang lalaruin namin," said De Jesus.
After Ateneo, DLSU still has University of Sto. Tomas as its last assignment to wrap up the first round.
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