Lady Eagles, Lady Tams collide for the last Finals berth

Mark Escarlote on Apr 23, 2017 09:18 AM
Lady Eagles, Lady Tams collide for the last Finals berth
Ateneo de Manila and Far Eastern University dispute the last Finals seat for the right to challenge the defending champion De La Salle University.

With their archrival already in the Finals, top seed Ateneo de Manila marches into battles against a very dangerous Far Eastern University on Sunday hoping to follow suit in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Final Four at the MOA Arena.

The twice-to-beat Lady Eagles clash with the no. 4 squad Lady Tamaraws for the right to face the defending champions De La Salle University Lady Spikers in the best-of-three Finals starting April 29.

Opening serve is at 4:00 p.m. and will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166 and via livestream.

Ateneo closed the elimination round on a high note after a 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19, win over the Lady Spikers despite resting top hitter Jho Maraguinot because of a naggiong knee injury last April 8.

The Lady Eagles will also enter the match against the Lady Tams holding a psychological advantage after dealing FEU two heartbreaking five-set defeats in the elims.

Ateneo outlasted FEU in their first meeting, 25-19, 24-26, 19-25, 25-16, 15-11, before duplicating their win with a 25-20, 25-22, 17-25, 21-25, 15-8, decision last March 18.

But Lady Eagles assistant coach Sherwin Meneses knows too well that all of their wins in the elims won’t matter anymore in the semis with both teams hungry to make it to the Finals.   

“Tulad ng dati naming sinasabi back to zero na ‘yan kasi pare pareho ng nasa semis,” said Meneses.

The former Adamson mentor added that he expects an all-out war and Ateneo will have to work hard to achieve their goal of making it to the Finals for the sixth straight season.

“’Yung twice-to-beat namin di namin iisipin as advantage,” he said. “Basta one game at a time pa rin. Semis ‘yan lahat gusto manalo.”

Maraguinot is expected to suit up to lead the Lady Eagles together with veteran playmaker Jia Morado and scorers Michelle Morente, Bea De Leon, Kat Tolentino and Jules Samonte.    

But FEU has something different in mind.

“Confident kami na pag laban namin ng semis, I think talagang all-out kami kasi wala na 'yan eh, anybody's game na,” said Lady Tams coach Shaq Delos Santos. “Kung sino ang magta-trabaho, mag-all-out, ‘yun ang mananalo.”

The Lady Tams went through a difficult path advance in the semis, needing to win all of its last three elims games to punch a Final Four ticket.

FEU booted out early season favorite University of the Philippines, 25-16, 25-16, 27-25, in their last elims match last April 5 for an 8-6 slate.

Fifth year player Remy Palma vowed to tow FEU back in the Finals after almost a decade of absence in her swan song with the help of Most Valuable Player contender Bernadeth Pons, Toni Rose Basas, Heather Guino-o and setters Kyle Negrito and Angelica Cayuna.

If necessary, the semis decider is on Wednesday at the same venue.

 

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