OPINION: Why this year’s Ateneo-La Salle women’s volleyball finals is one for the ages

Gerry Plaza on Apr 23, 2016 01:49 PM
Why this year’s Ateneo-La Salle  finals is one for the ages
This marks the fifth consecutive season that blue and green would clash for the title.

It should be one battle for the ages.

One, a defending champion Ateneo Lady Eagles team with an exiting Queen, all protecting a throne it has annexed twice in a row in the last seasons. The other, the longtime, bitter rival De La Salle Lady Spikers, who are dead-set to regain the glory it lost to the same team they faced the previous four straight years in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals.

But more than just a battle for pride and honor, or yet another chapter of the storied collegiate rivalry (especially alumni who yearn it for the chance to rekindle and flaunt that old school spirit), the Ateneo-La Salle Best-of-Three series that starts Saturday, April 23 at the Araneta Coliseum shows the face-off of two of the best volleyball teams ever assembled and developed further to reach even greater heights. In fact, these two teams have set standards that fellow teams are now trying to meet, and yes of course, their matches have made the sport and the league more buzzed, covered and in fact aired all over the world.

What will make their latest finals appearance a must-see?

1)    Rallies are just so extensive, heart-stopping and awesome to watch.

Watching both the Lady Eagles and Lady Spikers go at it with those powerful serves, frantic dashes for the dig and save, monstrous attacks, skillful set-ups and thunderous spikes—all at a duration of going over a minute or two just shows the skill, mastery, passion and determination both teams have in trying to score a point, a kind of a somewhat endless exchange until a wayward blink in receiving a kill or a block that brings the ball out of bounds ends the excitement.

2)    It is Alyssa Valdez and Ara Galang’s final year

Truly the top players of Lady Eagles and Lady Spikers would like to end her UAAP stint with a bang, somewhat similar to how Kobe Bryant ended his career in the NBA—leading their team on their shoulders to epic wins in two games to win the title.

And definitely, they are prepared for this and would nothing anything less than a championship for Season 78 a lasting legacy.

3)    Incredible deep rosters

Unfortunately for all their victims, no one will ever know whom among the Lady Eagles or Lady Spikers will bring the goods come game time. Everyone just steps up, without the slightest idea from their opponents on who will it be this time. For La Salle, is it Mika Reyes? Mary Joy Baron? Kim Fajardo? Kim Dy? Cyd Demecillo? Of course, Ara Galang? In the Ateneo line-up, you wouldn’t know if Amy Ahomiro, Jia Morado, Jhoana Maraguinot, Bea de Leon will be your worst on-court threat aside from top league scorer and reigning MVP Alyssa Valdez. Thus, expecting the unexpected is always a thrilling blockbuster—whether in cinemas or in a sports arena.

4)    Impressive breakthrough players

Ateneo’s Jhoana Maraguinot and La Salle’s Kim Dy are stepping up for their respective squads this season and they should bring extra excitement in the Finals.

Both should elevate the brand of play between the league’s glamor schools with their merciless attacks that have brought opponents into disarray and defeat. And, it would be an interesting time to witness how they will fare against each other and who will be left standing in victory in the end.

5)    Masterful coaching and game strategy

It will be how Ateneo coach Tai Bundit and La Salle mentor Ramil de Jesus prepares for this sixth Finals outing and how they will adjust at game time that will determine the champion. It has been like a grueling strategy play, instead of fielding the best open spiker or libero given how the game has elevated through the years.

La Salle has been known for its remarkable offense, and we’re sure expert tactician Coach Ramil will again devise plays that will expose Ateneo’s supposed weak first reception. But Coach Tai’s impressive on-court positioning, mind conditioning, and responsive use of the Eagles’ fabled artillery led by Alyssa should counter this and bring about yet another astonishing series expected to go the full distance.

 

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