UAAP: Ateneo looks to secure top seed against La Salle

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 13 2019 06:02 AM | Updated as of Apr 13 2019 06:14 PM

UAAP: Ateneo looks to secure top seed against La Salle 1
The Ateneo Lady Eagles and the De La Salle Lady Spikers face off anew on Saturday. Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo de Manila University has a chance to lock up the No. 1 seed in UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament when it takes on arch-rivals De La Salle University on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Since dropping their first game of the season to the Lady Spikers, the Lady Eagles have reeled off 10 consecutive wins and are already assured of a spot in the Final 4.

If they beat the defending champions on Saturday, Ateneo will clinch the No. 1 spot in the Final 4, as well as a twice-to-beat privilege over the eventual No. 4 seed.

"Alam naman namin na La Salle is the top team. They're the defending champions," said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro. "We'll just do the things that matter, and we'll really keep pushing ourselves up."

"Alam naman natin, great teams will just push us forward. So, knowing that La Salle is a great team, they will push us forward," he added.

La Salle dismissed Ateneo in four sets when they faced off all the way back on February 17, 25-14, 25-17, 16-25, 25-19. Since then, however, the Lady Spikers have endured a roller-coaster of a title defense, while the Lady Eagles strung together their victories.

The Lady Spikers will enter with an 8-3 win-loss record, having suffered two losses to University of the Philippines, and another to University of Santo Tomas. While they are already assured of a Final 4 playoff, La Salle needs to beat Ateneo to stay on track for a twice-to-beat advantage.

A loss will put them in a triple-tie for second to third places with UST and Far Eastern University, and leave the door open for either of those teams to snatch the second semifinal bonus.

La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus has made it clear that their sights are set on the No. 2 seed.

"Alam ko medyo imposible na 'yung No. 1 eh," said De Jesus. "So 'yung No. 2 ang kinakapitan namin."

The Lady Spikers surprised the Lady Eagles when they met in the first round, pouncing on Ateneo's weak service reception and nullifying their offense. Since then, however, Ateneo has improved its first ball, while also establishing itself as the best blocking team in the league.

La Salle still remains as the league's best serving team, and is no slouch at the net as they rank second just behind their rivals.

"Kailangan talaga namin paghandaan pa kung ano dapat i-improve pa sa team. Noong nakaharap namin sila noong first round, nagulat sa amin. Sana magulat ulit," said De Jesus.

Should Ateneo lose to La Salle, they still have two chances to seal the No. 1 seed and the twice-to-beat when they take on also-rans Adamson University and University of the East (UE).

After their date against the Lady Eagles, the Lady Spikers wrap up their schedule against UE and FEU.

Game time is at 4 p.m.

In the first game of the double-header, the already-eliminated Adamson Lady Falcons and the UE Lady Warriors clash at 2 p.m.

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