MANILA, Philippines - University of Santo Tomas and Ateneo collide today in what promises to be a fierce, no-holds-barred encounter between title contenders with no less than at least a playoff for a Final Four spot at stake in the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 First Conference at The Arena in San Juan.
With the Tigresses carrying a 1-0 card into the single round quarters with a victory over groupmates the Davao Agilas in the elims, the six-time champions need a win in their showdown with the reigning UAAP titlists to assure themselves of at least a playoff for one of the semis berths in the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
But the Lady Eagles are raring to rebound from a heart-breaking five-set loss to the surprising Agilas at the start of the quarters phase in the tough Group I last Thursday. Ateneo also brought a 1-0 slate into the Last 8 phase but dropped to 1-1 following the loss while Adamson, with a 0-1 card, is the other team in the group.
That puts the Lady Eagles in a must-win situation, making the 4 p.m. match worth watching with the Tigresses also out to deliver the blow and gain at least a playoff for one of the two semis seats in their side of the quarters of the league backed by Mikasa, Accel and Lion Tiger Mosquito Coil.
Focus will be on Ateneo ace Alyssa Valdez and UST rookie sensation Ennajie Laure, two of the league’s top hitters whose styles vary from one play to another with the former also hoping to bank on her experience and a support crew that includes Amy Ahomiro, Michelle Morente, Julia Morado, Aerieal Patnongon, Miren Gequillana, libero Jessica Tan and guest player Jhoanna Maraginot.
Laure, No. 4 in the scoring ranking with a 16-hit norm, will be with a slew of veteran campaigners, led by Pam Lastimosa Carmela Tunay, Jessey De Leon, guest player Rhea Dimaculangan, top digger Jan Dusaran and the league’s top blocker Marivic Meneses
Defending champion National U moved closer to a return stint to the Final Four in Group 2 by sweeping Arellano U, also last Thursday, with the Lady Bulldogs, who beat the Lady Eagles in four to capture the crown last year, expected to formalize their semis entry with a win over the St. Benilde Lady Blazers on Thursday.