DEFENDING champion De La Salle tries not to waste their twice-to-beat advantage and clinch their ninth straight Finals appearance when it battles University of Santo Tomas (UST) in the Final Four of Season 79 University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball tournament today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Spikers and Tigresses take the court at 4 p.m.
UST, the second-most successful team in the league with 15 titles, but has been winless for so long now, is back in the Final Four after four seasons of absence. And they vowed not to settle for anything less than advancing to the Finals.
“We’re not settling for just a Final Four appearance. We will dream big and we want to overachieve,” UST Head Coach Kungfu Reyes said. “Hopefully, this Final Four appearance would be a great motivation for the players. The morale of the team is high and I hope that we could match the intensity of De La Salle.”
Reyes is pinning much hope on the team’s 1-2 punch—skipper Cherry Rondina and EJ Laure—as well as on spikers Dimdim Pacres, Pam Lastimosa, Christine Francisco and Carla Sandoval.
The middle blocker, Ria Meneses and Chloe Cortez, setters Alina Bicar and Alex Cabaños, and libero Rica Rivera, according to Reyes, should also step up against the fluid De La Salle game.
The Lady Spikers have dominated the Tigresses in the regular season, winning their first-round encounter, 25-23, 16-25, 25-14, 25-22, and the second, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21.
But the ladies from Taft showed cracks in their system, having yielded twice to arch rival Ateneo this season, the first time that De La Salle Head Coach Ramil de Jesus absorbed consecutive losses to the Lady Eagles in his 20-year stint.
“This is where the real fight begins. We cannot afford to lose even if we’re twice to beat. We will do everything for this match,” said de Jesus, whose wards wound up second in the eliminations on an 11-3 won-lost card behind the 12-2 of Ateneo.
Out to lead De La Salle’s campaign are Season 78 Finals Most Valuable Player Kianna Dy, reigning Best Setter Kim Fajardo, Best Blocker Majoy Baron and last season’s Best Digger and Receiver Dawn Macandili.
De Jesus is also trying to avoid the predicament they found themselves in last season, when they were extended to a knockout match by Far Eastern University. The Lady Tamaraws are playing the Lady Eagles in the other semifinals tomorrow.