Lady Eagles, Lady Spikers rekindle storied rivalry
Mark Escarlote on Mar 04, 2017 08:28 AM
Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle University open a new chapter in their storied UAAP women's volleyball rivalry.
A new chapter of the storied Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle University rivalry unfolds Saturday in the much-anticipated rematch of last year’s Finals.
Gone are the usual stars of the past five seasons when the Lady Eagles and the defending champion Lady Spikers take center court for their 4:00 p.m. battle to end the first round of the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The crowd-drawers Alyssa Valdez and Amy Ahomiro of Ateneo and the tandem DLSU of Mika Reyes and Ara Galang may have graduated last year but expect new faces to rise as icons of the epic matchup that will air live over S+A Channel 23, S+A HD Channel 166 and via livestream.
As an added flavor in the showdown, the winner will get the solo top spot and keep its winning streak rolling. Ateneo and DLSU both share the lead with identical 5-1 win-loss records.
The Lady Eagles are on a four-game winning streak and are coming off a 25-14, 25-19, 25-21, demolition of the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons last week.
The Lady Spikers, meanwhile, are on a three-game tear with University of the East being their latest victim in a 25-18, 25-14, 25-16, whipping last Sunday.
DLSU head coach Ramil De Jesus said that this match all boils down on each team’s service reception and the skills of rivals’ setters to create plays.
Veteran playmakers Kim Fajardo of DLSU and Ateneo setter Jia Morado are in a chess match of utilizing their teammates to create opportunities on offense unlike last year when both could easily hand the ball to their reliable hitters in Galang and Valdez, respectively.
“Nandoon ang Morado, nandoon ang Fajardo magkakatalo lang siguro sa tyagaan, kung sino makapasa, kung sino maka-service receive. Kung hindi ka makapasa wala kang play,” De Jesus said.
Morado is averaging 12.10 excellent sets per frame while Fajardo has 11.89, occupying the top two spots in the department.
In team reception DLSU is at the top spot with 38.84% efficiency while Ateneo is sixth with 24.47% efficiency. The Lady Eagles averaged 2.71 aces per set in the past six games while the Lady Spikers have norms of 2.47 per frame.
Ateneo assistant coach Sherwin Meneses shares the same view as De Jesus in terms of the way this battle will be fought.
“Labanan ng walang star (ngayong season),” said Meneses. “So hindi lang isa or dalawa (ang aabangan), anim, pito, walo ganoon ang labanan sa Saturday so kung sino mas maganda teamwork ‘yun ang mananalo.”
“Siguro nasa systema ‘yun eh, kahit wala na ang mga key players last year,” he added. “So depende kasi hangga’t nandoon ang setter pareho ang galaw noon (team).”
Morado will have hitters Jho Maraguinot, Michelle Morente, Bea De Leon, Maddie Madayag and newcomer Kat Tolentino at her disposal while Fajardo has the option to give scoring chances to last year’s Finals MVP Kim Dy, Majoy Baron, Ernestine Tiamzon and Aduke Ogunsanya.
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