UAAP Season 81: DLSU, Ateneo in early clash of titans
Mark Escarlote on Feb 16, 2019 10:27 PM
Four-peat-seeking De La Salle University meets archrival Ateneo de Manila University in an early duel of title favorites.
Three-time defending champion De La Salle University takes on archrival Ateneo de Manila University in an early clash of titans on Sunday in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The four-peat-seeking Lady Spikers gets their first acid test at 4:00 p.m. in the duel that will air live on ABS-CBN S+A Channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD Channel 166, iWant and via livestream.
“Sabi nga nila na sa proverbial statement na ‘go to the ring of fire.’ Sabi nga ni coach (Ramil De Jesus) whoever we play in the first game ready kami,” said Tin Tiamzon, one of the remaining veterans left to lead DLSU.
The Lady Spikers won their third grand slam in the past 20 years at the expense of Far Eastern University last year in the final eligibility year of Kim Kianna Dy, former Most Valuable Player Majoy Baron and libero Dawn Macandili. DLSU also lost two more veterans during the offseason after Gyra Barroga and Arianne Layug decided to move up to the semi-pro league.
De Jesus will now lean on his remaining grizzled soldiers in Tiamzon, Des Cheng, Aduke Ogunsanya and May Luna. The Taft-based squad will parade transferee Lourdes Clemente and rookie Jolina Dela Cruz.
Meanwhile, Ateneo will begin its post-coach Tai Bundit era under new mentor former Blue Eagles tactician Oliver Almadro.
“Siyempre may halong pressure, may halong excitement, may accepting the blessing. Pero siyempre di natin matatawaran na La Salle kaagad. Ang masasabi ko lang ay my team is on track sa conditioning and sa program namin,” said Almadro, who was once an assistant coach of De Jesus at DLSU back in 2007. “But of course we’re looking at it na ang first game mo ay bakbakan agad.”
Leading the charge of Ateneo are graduating players Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag, Kat Tolentino, Ponggay Gaston and last year’s Best Setter winner Deanna Wong with promising rookie Vanessa Gandler.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @fromtheriles