WITH reigning champion Ateneo in a 0-2 hole, four unbeaten squads collide in a pair of crucial outings, with the winners poised to earn a major advantage in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The University of Santo Tomas (UST) (2-0) and the University of the Philippines (UP) (2-0) duel in the opener at 10 a.m. while La Salle (2-0) and National University (NU) (2-0) cross paths at 2 p.m., all with the goal of breaking the four-team logjam at the top of the standings after three matches.
Ateneo (0-2), for its part, shoots for a breakthrough win in the main game at 6 p.m. against Adamson (0-2) while FEU (0-2) and University of the East (UE) (0-2) are hoping for their first wins at 12 p.m.
The headliner, however, is the meeting between the Lady Spikers and Lady Bulldogs, whose hot starts both included statement wins against Ateneo.
“Malaking bagay sa amin na naka-dalawang panalo na kami agad, pero marami pa rin kailangan i-improve sa team. Stick lang kami sa system namin moving forward (It’s a big advantage to be at two wins, but we still need to improve lots of things. We hope to stick to our system moving forward),” said coach Karl Dimaculangan after following up his team’s straight-sets opening win over Adamson with a 25-22, 25-15, 22-25, 25-22 victory against Ateneo.
La Salle also clipped its rival Ateneo in the opener last week, 22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-20, before taking down Adamson, 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 to pave the way for an early showdown with NU.
“Seeing NU against Ateneo, pinakita talaga nila ‘yung strength nila. Sa atin medyo naga-adjust pa tayo, but hopefully we can show kung ano pa mailalabas ng team (They really showed their strengths. We still need to make a few adjustments, but we hope to demonstrate some other things),” according to deputy coach Benson Bocboc, who spoke in lieu of head coach Ramil de Jesus.
“The UAAP competition this season is very close and short. We’re still gauging all the teams so maybe towards the end of the season, doon natin makikita ‘yung difference (that’s where we will see the difference),” he added. — John Bryan Ulanday