La Salle's Ara Galang attempts against Ateneo's defenders. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA – The De La Salle Lady Spikers will get the first of two chances to clinch a fourth consecutive UAAP women’s volleyball crown when they face off against rivals Ateneo Wednesday in Game 3 of the Season 76 finals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
La Salle moved to within a game of clinching the Season 76 title with a four-set victory over the Lady Eagles last Saturday, a win that also allowed them to avenge a shocking defeat to Ateneo in the first game of the Finals.
“Naging advantage na sa amin ito. Nakabalik na kami sa 18 days na pahinga namin, so eto na. Wala ng reason para mawala ulit kung ano man ‘yung nawala sa amin noong buong elimination,” said La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus, who is targeting his 9th title as the coach of the Lady Spikers.
“Feeling ko, mas kailangan pa naming mag-pursige, dahil kailangan kapitan na namin ito sa Wednesday,” he said.
La Salle swept the elimination round of the tournament for the second time in three seasons and carried a thrice-to-beat advantage in the Finals, but were admittedly rusty and complacent in their four-set loss to Ateneo in Game 1.
The Lady Spikers had to stave off a late rally by Ateneo in Game 2 to seal the win, with the Lady Eagles committing two errors – including a service error by newly crowned MVP Alyssa Valdez – to hand the win to the La Salle.
“Siyempre masakit sa sarili ko, pero sinasabi naman ng teammates ko ng okay lang, tsaka ng coaches ko,” said Valdez, also the Best Scorer and Best Server of the tournament.
Valdez said the Lady Eagles will play all out in tomorrow’s game even as they continue to have “no expectations” ahead of the match.
“We have nothing to lose. Laging sinasabi sa amin na wala din namang nag-expect na makakabot kami sa ganitong kataas,” said Valdez. “So nothing to lose, more to gain kami. Maglalaro lang kami, sobrang ibibigay namin lahat, at hindi kami mage-expect.”
Ateneo can force a winner-take-all game if they pull off another upset tomorrow.
De Jesus and his team are expecting Lady Eagles coach Arunsorn “Tai” Bundit to make the appropriate adjustments and vow to be ready for them.
“Mas magbabago sila, maga-adjust sila ngayon,” said De Jesus. “Ganoon naman ang coach eh. Kapag hindi naging successful ang ginamit na tao, may gagawing adjustment. Doon na lang kami dapat maghanda, sa kung ano ang gagawin nilang adjustment.”
“Magre-ready pa kaming mabuti,” added La Salle’s Ara Galang. “Siyempre, magpapaikot ng tao ‘yung kalaban, so magiging ready kami doon.”