MANILA, Philippines - Adamson faces off with Far Eastern U and National U collides with University of Santo Tomas today in a pair of explosive matches kicking off the Shakey’s V-League Season II First Conference Final Four at The Arena in San Juan City.
If momentum would be any indication, then the Lady Falcons and the Lady Bulldogs should have the edge after the former swept their last two matches in the quarters to clinch the top seeding in Group I and the latter also dominating Group 2 to emerge the No. 1 team.
But the Lady Tams and the Tigresses are no pushovers. In fact, they boast of high-powered rosters that could give their respective fancied rivals something to think about and work out on, guaranteeing a spirited battle for the finals slots in the season-opening conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
FEU, unfancied in the elims with its low-keyed lineup, became a top contender with the entry of veteran campaigners Rachel Ann Daquis and Jovelyn Gonzaga as reinforcements, adding to the Lady Tams’ threats upfront.
With FEU top hitters Bernadette Pons and Mary Joy Palma also expected to raise their respective game a notch higher and the bench raring to put in their share, the Lady Falcons could be in for a big surprise when they slug it out in the 2 p.m. opener before an expected big Sunday crowd.
Adamson’s troika of Pau Soriano, Shiela Pineda and Thai Pacharee Sangmuang is again expected to lead the San Marcelino-based squad’s bid for a third straight win with support likely to come up from Mylene Paat, Amanda Villanueva, May Macatuno and Marleen Cortel.
The NU-UST clash at 4 p.m. could turn out to be the more interesting duel with the Lady Bulldogs out to duplicate their scrambling 25-19, 25-22, 18-25, 24-26, 15-10 victory over the Tigresses in the elims last March 30.
With Jaja Santiago back in harness after a stint with the national team and sister Dindin raring to flaunt her superb attacking skills, the defending champions hope to get past the Tigresses and move within a win from making a return stint to the finals of the league backed by Mikasa, Accel and Lion Tiger Mosquito Coil.
But UST is out to prove its worth with coach Odjie Mamon pinning his hopes on ace high school hitter Ennajie Laure and the talented crew of Pam Lastimosa, Carmela Tunay, Jessey de Leon and Rhea Dimaculangan.
The Tigresses actually boast not only of the league’s leading scorer in Laure, who averaged 16 hits heading to the semis, but also the top blocker in Marivic Meneses although UST’s 1-2 punch will have a lot of adjusting to do against NU’s twin towers in the Santiago sisters.
Winners in the best-of-three semis will dispute the crown in another best-of-three affair, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Meanwhile, NU’s Aiko Urdas emerged as the league’s best spiker after the quarters with 41.67 percent success out of 120 attempts, beating Palma (40.82 percent-147 attempts) and St. Benilde’s Jeanette Panaga (37.78 percent-135 attempts).
Ateneo’s Amy Ahomiro topped the best server category with 17 aces with nine faults followed by Dimaculangan (16 with five faults) and Dindin Santiago (14 with 18 faults) while Perpetual Help’s Vhima Condada emerged as the top digger with 60 of 126 receptions, with FEU’s Christine Agno in second with 76 out of 87 receptions and Southwestern U’s Mae Pacinio with 51 out of 91 receptions.