La Salle, Ateneo clash for volleyball crown anew

From a report by TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 25 2013 06:56 PM | Updated as of Feb 26 2013 02:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines – For the second straight year, rival squads Ateneo Lady Eagles and the De La Salle Lady Spikers will face off in the finals of the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.

Last Saturday, the Lady Spikers and the Lady Eagles dispatched the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs and the Adamson Lady Falcons, respectively, in the Final Four in front of over 12,000 fans inside the Araneta Coliseum.

Even though they held a twice-to-beat advantage, the Lady Spikers made quick work of the Lady Bulldogs, who were competing in the semi-finals for the first time.

In the first set, the Lady Spikers raced to an early lead and won 25-18. The Lady Bulldogs were able to build a 16-12 advantage in the second set, only to see the defending champions rally for a 25-23 win.

In the third set, the Lady Spikers proved their dominance as they won 25-18.

“It’s the finals. Dapat isipin na talaga, ito na ang real battle,” said La Salle coach Ramil De Jesus, whose squad is seeking its third straight crown.

In the second game, the Lady Eagles and the Lady Falcons disputed the other Finals berth, with Ateneo holding the twice-to-beat advantage.

The Lady Falcons briefly pulled ahead in the first set, 15-11, though the Lady Eagles quickly tied the set at 15-all. It was a see-saw battle all the way to the finish but Ateneo’s strong defense allowed them to carve a 25-23 victory.

The Lady Eagles again escaped with a 25-23 victory in the second set, although the Lady Falcons did their best to force an extension.

Adamson held a four-point lead in the third set, and at 23-19, they needed just two more points to force a Set Four.

But out of a timeout, Ateneo rallied behind scoring champion Alyssa Valdez and won 26-24.

“Motivated talaga ang mga bata to go to the Finals. Malaking advantage din kasi ‘yung twice-to-beat,” said Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb.

For the second straight season, it will be the Lady Eagles going against the defending champion Lady Spikers in the finals, but this time, the two squads will start out on even terms.

In Season 74, the Lady Spikers held a thrice-to-beat advantage in the Finals after sweeping the elimination round, but this year, the Finals will be a best-of-three affair.

Game 1 will be on March 2 at the Araneta Coliseum and will be broadcast live on Studio 23.