By John Bryan Ulanday
WITH an outright finals berth within its reach, unscathed National University (NU) wants no slip-up in taking care of Santo Tomas as its last hurdle in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball tournament today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
At 13-0, the Lady Bulldogs aim to get the job done at 4 p.m. versus the Golden Tigresses (9-4) for a big win that would also turn the traditional Final Four into a harder stepladder format for the other teams below them.
Santo Tomas, currently at third, and No. 2 La Salle (10-3) are already in that playoff picture, leaving Adamson (7-6) and reigning champion Ateneo (7-6) in a scramble for the last slot against different opponents.
The Lady Falcons play the Lady Spikers at 12:30 p.m. while the Blue Eagles battle also-ran University of the Philippines (UP) (5-8) at 6:30 p.m. Cellar-dwellers Far Eastern University (FEU) (1-12) and University of the East (UE) (0-13) then go for a graceful exit at 10 a.m.
In case of a tie, Adamson and Ateneo would slug it out in a knockout duel for the last playoff ticket.
For NU, the stakes are higher.
“Hindi pa tapos ang trabaho. Hindi muna namin iniisip ‘yung sweep. As always, we’ll take it one game at a time. Basta ready lang kami. Trabaho lang kung ano ang magiging results,” said NU coach Karl Dimaculangan.
Against the capable Golden Tigresses for that 14-0 sweep bid, the Lady Bulldogs expect no less than an all-out war despite a 25-21, 25-21, 21-25, 25-15 win in the first round.
“Kami ‘yung last game nila so sino ba naman ang ayaw tumalo sa NU? Para magkaroon tayo ng Final Four, we will try our best,” said Santo Tomas deputy Yani Fernandez, who spoke in lieu of head coach Kungfu Reyes.
“Dadaan kami sa butas ng karayom. Para rin ito sa ibang teams kasi malaki ‘yung impact pag na-sweep nila. Mas mahirap ‘yung stepladder, so sana makuha namin ‘yung panalo,” he added.