MANILA, Philippines – The National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs will clash with an inspired Ateneo side in its bid to advance to the Finals as the step-ladder semis of the UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball tournament continue on Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Bulldogs hold a twice-to-beat record after finishing second in the eliminations with a 12-2 record.
A victory in the 4 p.m. duel will send NU to a championship showdown against defending champions De La Salle, which gained an outright Finals berth along a thrice-to-beat edge after a 14-0 sweep of the elimination round.
The Lady Bulldogs swept the Lady Eagles in their two matches this season, but Coach Edjet Mabbayad knows the postseason is a different story. To complement the towering Santiago sisters, DinDin and Jaja, NU has a bevy of hitters in Mina Aganon, Myla Pablo and Aiko Urdas.
Setter Ivy Perez, who can also contribute on offense if needed, will be a vital cog for the Lady Bulldogs as well.
Ateneo defeated a veteran Adamson University crew, 26-24, 25-23, and 25-21, in the first step-ladder match last Sunday to advance.
In that game, the Lady Eagles showed that they were far more than an Alyssa Valdez team as Amy Ahomiro continued to provide big contributions even as rookie Michelle Morente continued her strong play. Ella de Jesus also played big against the Lady Falcons.
Rookie setter Jia Morado has also been steady in her playmaking chores for the Lady Eagles, who finished the eliminations with a 10-4 record – losing only to NU and La Salle – despite a rookie-laden roster.
Meanwhile, the NU Bulldogs are seeking to arrange a best-of-three Finals series against Ateneo in the men’s division as the defending champions face the fourth-seeded Adamson University at 2 p.m.
The Bulldogs finished the eliminations on top with a 12-2 record and needed to beat the Falcons just once to advance to the Finals.
Ateneo overcame a two-set hole last Sunday to bundle out Far Eastern University, 23-25, 19-25, 25-17, 28-26, and 15-13, in the Final Four and advance to the finals for the first time since 1980.
Adamson, meanwhile, is coming off a 25-20, 27-25, 25-23 win over La Salle in a playoff for the last semi-finals berth last week.