Ateneo-DLSU V: It’s anybody’s ball game

Mark Escarlote on Apr 22, 2016 01:15 PM
Ateneo-DLSU V: It’s anybody’s ball game
Which team will bag the championship trophy?

One is looking to cement a dynasty while the other is in search for redemption to revive its lost glory.

Compared to last year’s finale, the 78th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament championship series’ odds are even between archrivals two-time defending champion Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles and De La Salle University Lady Spikers.

Both teams put their respective school’s pride at stake.

Graduating players in each camp want to leave a winning legacy.

Which team will bag the championship trophy?

Your guess is as good as anybody else’s.

Ateneo will march in the best-of-three series opener Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum with arguably the most explosive scorer in league history in two-time Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez in her swan song, her heir apparent Jho Maraguinot, a duo of solid middles Amy Ahomiro and Bea De Leon and playmaker Jia Morado, who served a tour of duty with two national squads.

On the other side are the green-clad women of Taft Avenue led by graduating Ara Galang, Mika Reyes and Cyd Demecillo, setter Kim Fajardo and libero Dawn Macandili.

Ateneo coach Tai Bundit is a guru of mental and physical conditioning, De La Salle mentor Ramil De Jesus is a brilliant tactician and a veteran of many wars. 

For the past five years it has been Ateneo and La Salle duking it out for the crown and glory.

The Lady Spikers took the first two in Seasons 74 and 75 before the Lady Eagles shifted the balance of power in Seasons 76 and 77.

In the elimination round, DLSU shocked Ateneo with a walk in the park, 25-22, 25-14, 25-18, win in the first round. But Ateneo returned the favor with a thrilling 21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 15-5, escape last April 10.

The Lady Eagles had a good one week of rest and preparation while the Lady Spikers took a long route with four tiring games in 11 games including a do-or-die semifinals last Wednesday to boot out Far Eastern University for the remaining Finals seat.

Despite being fresh heading to the championship battle, Valdez sees no advantage for her team.

DLSU, she said, still has a deep bench compared to her team which is missing the services of injured (knee) sophomore Madie Madayag.        

“Meron silang good system from their first sixth to their 14th player sobrang reliable talaga sila and you can’t be complacent kahit sinong ipasok nila (magdedeliver),” said Valdez.

Endurance and stamina could be an issue for the Lady Spikers.      

“Siguro hindi na lang naming iniisip na short period (ang preparation),” said Galang, who missed last year’s Finals after suffering a major knee injury in the semis against National University.

“Basta kami tityagain namin and kailangan hindi naming ma-feel ang pagod, ‘yun ang kailangan,” she added.

Saying which team will win it all in this series indeed is a hard.

But at the end of the day, the fans and supporters of both proud schools are the real winners as they are about to witness an epic match that is expected to go down the wire.




Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles


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