Get ready for Ateneo-La Salle Episode V
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 22, 2016 02:02 PM
Both teams won two titles each in the last four seasons, they meet again for the fifth time this year. It doesn't get any better than this.
We'll go ahead and say that the UAAP Season 78 Women's Volleyball Finals is Game 5 of an epic five-year series between eternal rivals Ateneo De Manila University and De La Salle University.
It all started in Season 74 as Alyssa Valdez, then playing her first year with Ateneo after sitting out a year of residency, joined the Fab 5 of Fille Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio, Gretchen Ho, Jem Ferrer and Aillysse Nacachi and put the Lady Eagles into elite territory in UAAP Volleyball.
After Valdez helped Ateneo eliminate her former school UST in the semifinals, the Lady Eagles were all set to challenge the mighty Lady Spikers in the Finals.
De La Salle finished 14-0 that season and wanted to win a third championship in four years.
The Lady Eagles managed to steal Game 1 and denied the Lady Spikers a perfect season, bu they would take the next two games to win the title.
Aby Marano was the Season 74 MVP while the graduating Cha Cruz was the finals MVP. Valdez was ineligible for the Rookie of the Year award and Ara Galang made her entrance to Taft as the league's top freshman.
Season 75 was more of the same as the loaded Lady Spikers dominated the season throughout.
After losing to UST on opening day, La Salle would win 16 straight games to complete a three-peat as not even an improved Ateneo team, with Valdez emerging as the UAAP's best scorer, could stop Taft's mean green fighting machine in the finals. It would also mark the end of the UAAP careers of the Ateneo's Fab Five.
Michele Gumabao was the finals MVP and Ara Galang completed her star turn for La Salle after sharing regular season MVP honors with Aby Marano.
In Season 76, the Lady Spikers were on their way to an unprecendented four-peat in the Final Four era, sweeping their way in the eliminations once again to gain a thrice-to-beat advantage in the finals.
The Lady Eagles were not even the number 2 team that season as the Santiago sisters made National University look like legit contenders for La Salle.
However, with new head coach Tai Bundit, the third seeded Lady Eagles embraced their brand new "Heart Strong" monicker and went on to win three knockout games to challenge the Lady Spikers in the finals again.
Third time proved to be the charm for Ateneo as newly-crowned MVP Alyssa Valdez led Katipunan to promise land with a dramatic four-game conquest of their archrivals.
By the time Season 77 rolled around, there was already a new super power in the UAAP and the color of that team is blue.
Ateneo completed a dominant sweep last year to win back-to-back titles behind an even better version of two-time MVP Alyssa Valdez.
In the finals, the Lady Eagles feasted on a banged up La Salle side that lost Ara Galang to ACL injury in the Final Four.
Ateneo absolutely dominated La Salle in the series and the closest the Lady Spikers got was in set 3 of game number 2 where the Lady Eagles won, 25-23.
The epic saga continued to Season 78 where La Salle fired the first shot by ending Ateneo's 24-game winning streak with a surprising sweep in the first round.
The Lady Eagles regrouped and despite some mid-season panic, Ateneo got the top seed after a dramatic five-set win over the Lady Spikers in round 2.
While the Lady Spikers took a little more time in returning to their eight straight finals appearance, Ateneo-La Salle V is now set with game 1 starting tomorrow at the Araneta Coliseum.
Can Alyssa Valdez lead Ateneo to a three-peat that only La Salle (twice) and FEU have accomplished in the Final Four era or will Ara Galang and the rest of the Lady Spikers finally get that elusive ninth championship for Taft?
Don't miss the UAAP Season 78 women's volleyball finals live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action channel 23, ABS-CBN Sports + Action HD chanell 166 and via livestream on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/uaap.