MANILA, Philippines - University of Santo Tomas hopes to come out strong from a week-long break as it battles a slumping San Sebastian side today, looking for a victory and a boost to its quarterfinal bid in the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 First Conference at The Arena in San Juan City.
The Tigresses trounced the Far Eastern U Lady Tams in four last week to recover from a sorry five-set loss to the unbeaten defending champion National U Lady Bulldogs last March 30. Another win over the Recoletos-based squad in their 6 p.m. encounter will move the six-time champions closer to a quarterfinal stint in the season-opening of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
NU clinched the first berth in the next round with a sweep of its first four games in Group B, capped by back-to-back shutout victories over SSC and FEU, leaving UST, SSC, FEU, Perpetual Help and Davao to fight for the last three seats.
The Tigresses have the inside track for one of the spots with coach Odjie Mamon hoping to draw the best from ace rookie Ennajie Laure, who averaged 20 hits in the first two games, and veterans Pam Lastimosa, Carmela Tunay, Jessey de Leon and guest player Rhea Dimaculangan along with promising Marivic Meneses.
But top spiker Gretchel Soltones is expected to suit up for SSC after missing the team’s last two games due to injury she sustained in a four-set setback to FEU last March 25, giving the Lady Stags a big push and the Tigresses a big concern for their net and floor defense.
With a 1-2 card, SSC is in a must-win with coach Roger Gorayeb also pinning his hopes on Czarina Berbano, Bea Uy, Jolina Labiano and guest players Maruja Banaticla and Ryzabelle Devanadera.
FEU, led by Bernadette Pons and Joy Palma, likewise goes all-out to revive its quarters bid against winless Perpetual Help in the 4 p.m. opener with the Lady Tams seeking to snap back-to-back losses to the Tigresses and the Lady Bulldogs after beating the Lady Stags in four in the league backed by Mikasa, Accel and Lion Tiger Mosquito Coil.
But the reigning NCAA champions Lady Altas are also raring to strike back after dropping a blowout loss to the Lady Bulldogs and a five-setter to the Lady Stags with Norie Diaz and Abigael Praca tipped to lead Perpetual’s charge along with Jamela Suyat. Ana Diocareza, Coleen Bravo and Shaira Cabriana.