OF LUCK AND ODDS: Looking beyond the Ateneo-DLSU rivalry stats

Mark Escarlote on Apr 30, 2016 11:59 AM
OF LUCK AND ODDS: Looking beyond Ateneo-DLSU rivalry stats
Let’s look beyond the statistics and the percentages of each team or the level of their players’ individual skills and play with the odds and numbers in this year's Ateneo-De La Salle match.

There’s no doubt about the skills, determination, heart and spirit of defending two-time champion Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University especially now that the two proud schools will dispute the 78th UAAP women’s volleyball title in winner-take-all battle at the Big Dome on Saturday.

They have been proving this for many years.

The storied rivalry has been going at it for the past five seasons.  

But just like any other sport, volleyball results could sometimes be decided by sheer luck or what coaches would like to call as breaks of the game.

Let’s just look beyond the statistics and the percentages of each team or the level of their players’ individual skills.

Let’s play with the odds and numbers before we march – wearing either blue or green – in the Lady Eagles’ and Lady Spikers’ final battle for supremacy in Season 78.


Magic  5?

Ateneo and La Salle faced off for the crown for five straight years, splitting the first four championships with the Lady Spikers taking Seasons 74 and 75 before the Lady Eagles dominated the next two years including a rare tournament sweep in Season 77. 

Except for Season 76, this tournament has the most number of Ateneo-DLSU duels with five including the two elimination round games. In Season 76, the Lady Eagles faced the Lady Spikers six times including four in the Finals to capture their breakthrough championship.

The last time the rivalry went into a five-game tournament showdown was in Season 74 when Ateneo won Game One of the championship series against the then thrice-to-beat DLSU with the help of the then rookie Alyssa Valdez.

Speaking of Valdez, the three-time Most Valuable Player is playing in her fifth and final year as Queen Eagle.

Five Lady Spikers will graduate after this season. Mika Reyes, Cyd Demecillo, Ara Galang, Mika Esperanza and Carol Cerveza are all playing their last match in the their five years of service for the green and white.

Ateneo won all of their tournament head-to-heads with DLSU this season in five sets, exacting revenge on DLSU, 21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 15-5, in the second round before staving off elimination in Game 2 of the championship series, 18-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11, last Wednesday.

Valdez said that this series is “parang five-setter” as this will decide the chapter of her era.


Venue jinx

Not being superstitious, but the game venues this season gave an eerie effect on the way the games were decided between the two teams.

This season, the Lady Spikers won only once at the Mall of Asia Arena and never against the Lady Eagles. In DLSU’s four losses this season, three were from this Pasay City venue.

First to cast the curse was National University, which has the venue as their home court since the school is owned by the SM Group, in the first round. The Taft-based squad was shocked by Far Eastern University in the Final Four before scoring a win in the venue in a do-or-die match to advance in the Finals.

Ateneo outlasted the Lady Spikers in five-sets in two matches held in this venue. 

The Big Dome, meanwhile, is not friendly with the Lady Eagles.

Ateneo never won a single set this season in this Cubao venue whenever it meets DLSU.

The Lady Eagles absorbed a 22-25, 14-25, 18-25, beating from the Lady Spikers in the first round that ended Ateneo’s 24-game winning streak overall.

DLSU duplicated this in the series opener last week in an emphatic, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21, victory.   


Follow the trend?

Let’s put this coming from the mouth of DLSU athletic director Nongnong Calanog, “If you see the pattern (on Ateneo head-to-head this season) di ba nanalo kami then natalo, nakapag-adjust sila. Nanalo kami, nakapag-adjust sila and hopefully makapag-adjust kami and there’s no more adjustments after that di ba?”

Simply said, if fate will follow this season’s pattern then the Lady Spikers could be heading back to the throne.

But then again, Lady Luck also smiled on Ateneo before.

The last time the Lady Eagles survived elimination, they went on to win the title.

And that was in Season 76 when Ateneo won Games 3 and 4 of the Finals against the then thrice-to-beat DLSU.

Of course, all of these could just be a case of coincidence but admit it or not, most of the times these things make the rivalry more interesting.

Whatever happens later in the 3:30 p.m. winner-take-all match, we’re all lucky to experience this epic rivalry for the fifth straight year.






Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles

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