Final 4 battle royale: two spots, four teams

Mark Escarlote on Mar 28, 2016 12:07 PM
Final 4 battle royale: two spots, four teams
Here are the scenarios for University of the Philippines, Far Eastern University, University of Santo Tomas and National University in the 78th UAAP women's volleyball tournament.

Only two spots in the 78th UAAP women’s volleyball Final Four remain with four teams still going at it.

The last six elimination round playdates are crucial for the squads vying for position in the semifinals to join early qualifiers: the two-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles and De La Salle University Lady Spikers.

Here are the scenarios for University of the Philippines, Far Eastern University, University of the Philippines and National University.

 

UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES

The rookie-laden Diliman-based squad strengthened its bid for a Final Four seat before the Holy Week break.

UP sits at the third spot with a 7-4 win-loss record behind Ateneo and DLSU, which share the top spot with 9-2 slates. The Lady Maroons are knocking at the Final Four door and are at least two wins away from making the cut since their last semis stint in Season 65 – about 13 years ago.

Thanks to their energetic and aggressive new recruits Isa Molde, Diana Carlos and Justine Dorog with the help of veterans Nicole Tiamzon and Kathy Besola, the Lady Maroons won five of their last six matches including a four-game winning run that saw UP chop down the mighty Lady Eagles in four sets before bowing down.

The Lady Maroons have three games left against NU on Wednesday, FEU on Sunday before wrapping the eliminations in a faceoff with UST on April 10.

Head coach Jerry Yee said that they are not yet thinking ahead of things and would rather focus on the tasks at hand.     

“We’re not thinking about that (Final Four spot). As much as possible ‘yung focus ng mga bata, I’m trying to divert it sa mga skills na kailangan namin to be able compete sa Final Four (seat),” he said.

“Ayoko ng mga predictions and thinking ahead of things. Mahirap pa rin siyempre kasi we have three games left and we have to win two out of three,” Yee added.

Aside from a semis ticket, UP also has a chance of securing a twice-to-beat Final Four advantage. 

If the Lady Maroons sweep all of their remaining games coupled with either Ateneo or DLSU dropping least two matches, UP can force a playoff for the Final Four incentive.

A winless closing stretch will complicate things for UP.

 

FAR EASTERN UNIVERSITY

The Lady Tamaraws are currently in a shaky position at the no. 4 spot holding a 6-5 record with UST and NU breathing down FEU’s neck.

In the second round, the erratic Lady Tams won two of their four matches including a close-shave 27-25, 25-17, 22-25, 26-28, 15-10 win over the Lady Bulldogs last March 19.

The victory gave FEU a little breathing space from NU and UST but the Lady Tams need to win two more games in their last three assignments to at least secure a playoff for a semifinals seat.  

“Sobrang importante ang next three games. Hopefully magawa namin at naniniwala kami sa mga bata na makaka-surive kami. Hindi na kami puwedeng matalo pa,” said FEU coach Shaq Delos Santos.

The Morayta-based squad will take on UST on Wednesday, UP on Sunday before winding up their elims campaign against also-ran Adamson University on April 6.

 

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY

Considered as one of the top contenders in the pre-season, the Lady Bulldogs’ season is already hanging by a thread.

Even with a strong lineup bannered by 6-foot-5 Jaja Santiago, Myla Pablo and Jorelle Singh, NU struggled all season long with 5-6 record, dropping five of its last seven games.

Chemistry, low morale and communication inside the court were the culprit in the Lady Bulldogs’ woes, giving head coach Roger Gorayeb throbbing headaches in his second year of duty for NU.

The Lady Bulldogs cannot afford to lose one more game as it will put their fate out of their hands. NU need to sweep their last three assignments to secure a playoff for a Final Four spot. 

A loss will put them in danger of missing the Final Four for the first time in four seasons.

However, the Lady Bulldogs have the most difficult path among the teams still in contention for a semis bus ride.

NU will resume action on Wednesday against the Lady Maroons, a rematch with the Tigresses on Sunday before facing DLSU, a team raring to exact revenge after a four-set loss to the Lady Bulldogs in the first round, at the end of the elims on April 13.

 

UNIVERSITY OF STO. TOMAS 

The Tigresses missed the semifinals for three straight years since its last appearance in Season 74.

With a 5-6 card, UST just can’t afford to drop a game in its remaining three outings.

Just like NU, a loss could mean another heartache for the Tigresses.

UST lost two of its last four games in the second round including a straight sets 20-25, 18-25, 18-25, beating at the hands of Ateneo de Manila, which played a man down with middle Maddie Madayag suffering a season-ending ACL injury.

Heavy-hitter Cherry Rondina, EJ Laure, Ria Meneses and Carmela Tunay need to get their acts together to keep the Tigresses’ semis hopes alive.

The Espana-based squad’s character will be tested on Wednesday in a crucial match with the Lady Tamaraws. On April 3 UST takes on NU before closing the elims in a clash with the Lady Maroons.

 

If necessary, the playoff game or games will be played on April 16.

In case the Final Four cast is settled at the end of the eliminations, the semifinals will start on April 16.

 

 

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