Ateneo expects a different DLSU in Finals opener

Mark Escarlote on May 01, 2017 03:44 PM
Ateneo expects a different DLSU in Finals opener
Ateneo de Manila braces for a different De La Salle University when they meet in the 79th UAAP women's volleyball best-of-three Finals series.

Ateneo de Manila University is not looking at its two elimination round wins the Lady Eagles claimed against the defending champion De La Salle University as a huge advantage when the archrivals meet Tuesday in the opener of the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Finals at the Big Dome.

It does give some sort of psychological advantage for the Lady Eagles but assistant coach Sherwin Meneses also sees it as a possible rallying point for the Lady Spikers in their best-of-three series – the storied rivalry’s sixth straight installment.     

Game time 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.

The Katipunan-based squad defeated DLSU in four sets, 26-24, 26-24, 21-25, 25-17, in their first meeting since the Lady Spikers dragged the Lady Eagles off their two-year reign on the throne. Ateneo again destroyed the Taft-based squad, 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19, in their elims rematch almost a month ago to earn the top seed in the Final Four.

Still, Meneses and the Lady Eagles, who are in their sixth Finals appearance in a row, are wary of the ability of DLSU to come back strong from a setback especially with the title on the line.  

“Depende sa La Salle (kung kami ang may uppehand) kasi kami ang nanalo (sa elims). Pero sa amin naman eh one game at a time,” he said.

“Dati nga sabi ko kahit 9-1 ka or 12-2 ka kay coach Tai (Bundit) every game nagpe-prepare,” he added.

If there is one certain adjustment Ateneo is certain that DLSU will make in the Finals, it will be giving the Lady Eagles a harder time on service reception. 

“Mahirap kasi sagutin ‘yan sekreto nila ‘yan eh pero syempre siguro maga-adjust sila sa service receive namin. Kasi kung sino ang may magandang service ‘yun ang mananalo eh,” Meneses said. “Pero ang adjustment makikita mo na lang sa game kasi hindi mo talaga malalaman.”

Meneses added that they can't afford to let their guards down against DLSU. 

"Bilog ang bola eh. I think La Salle is eager, super eager to get a win from us, but syempre kami, we have to prepare yung sarili namin. Kilala na namin ang La Salle. Hindi sila magpapabaya ng ganun lang," he said. "Lalaban sila, all-out sila, so kami, kailangan namin is be ready kung ano ang gagawin sa amin ng La Salle."

The Lady Eagles welcomed the sudden change of schedule of the start of the championship series as a chance for Bundit to look for the best combination to help Ateneo reclaim the crown.

The UAAP moved the original April 29 series opener to May 2 in deference to the country’s hosting of the ASEAN Summit.

“Si coach Tai kasi depende sa makikita niya kung sino ang nag-iimprove sa everyday training ‘yun ‘yung tinitignan niya palagi so ang maganda doon itong season namin malalim ang bench so team work talaga so kahit sino pwede (mag-step up).”

The change also gave the Lady Eagles a chance to rest especially those nursing minor injuries including top hitter Jho Maraguinot (knee).

Michelle Morente has a nagging abdominal strain, middle Bea De Leon is nursing a foot sprain, veteran setter Jia Morado is playing through lingering back pain while Kat Tolentino is dealing with some knee issues.

Ateneo punched a return trip to the Finals after booting out Far Eastern University, 25-22, 25-10, 16-25, 26-24, in the Final Four. 

Game 2 of the Finals is on May 6 while Game 3, if necessary, is on May 10.



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