SportsUAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals Preview: La Salle, Ateneo face off for third consecutive year
UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals Preview: La Salle, Ateneo face off for third consecutive year
March 4, 2014
March 4, 2014

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The UAAP Women’s Volleyball championship throne has been occupied by a single team for the past three seasons and that team is none other than the DLSU Lady Spikers. With another trip to the finals this season, the Taft-based volleybelles will try to defend their throne in order to take home another championship for the fourth straight year – a league record.

In an unexpected turn of events, the ADMU Lady Eagles earned the privilege to take part in this year’s finals, pushing for another heated La Salle-Ateneo finals duel for the third straight season.

Unique lineup

The Lady Eagles’ finals appearance was a surprise for many as they came in to the season with a rookie-laden squad, with veteran Alyssa Valdez as their new team captain and Thai coach Anusorn “Ty” Bundit as their new lead mentor.

It was highly expected that a first time La Salle-NU face off would happen in this season’s UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals, however, the Lady Eagles were resilient and had plans of their own.

Ateneo had to deal with the stepladder semifinals the hard way. Finishing the eliminations at the third spot with a 10-4 win-loss record, they had to win three games in order to join La Salle in the finals. Despite being a squad dominated by young players, the Lady Eagles successfully defeated the AdU Lady Falcons in the first semifinal stage and demolished NU’s twice-to-beat advantage to cap off a dramatic comeback to the finals.

With all the victories and losses that they went through this season, the Lady Eagles successfully proved their doubters wrong. Although Valdez was tapped to lead their squad’s campaign this season, she definitely shared the workload for Ateneo as many rising Lady Eagles made their presence felton the court.

Whether it is a high-flying attack by Ella De Jesus, a smart serve from Amy Ahomiro, a great save from libero Denden Lazaro, an impressive performance by rookie Michelle Morente or an excellent set by rookie Jia Morado, each of these talented Lady Eagles pitched their contributions to bring back Ateneo to the UAAP finals.

Raring for more

The Lady Spikers dropped a total of just two sets during the entire course of the elimination round as they won all of their 14 games, earning a sweep that gave them a thrice-to-beat edge entering the finals.

Losing veterans Michele Gumabao, Wensh Tiu and Melissa Gohing wasa big matter for the Lady Spikers and it left the sole leadership to present team captain and graduating player Abigail Marano. Having a reputable and experienced head coach in the person of coach Ramil de Jesus helped overcome the loss as effective adjustments were gradually made to maintain the dominance of the Lady Spikers this season.

Aside from the team captain Marano, the key players of La Salle are Ara Galang and Mika Reyes who continue to empower the reigning champions as the team’s leading scorers while new liberos Cienne Cruz and Dawn Macandili have had steady performances on the defensive end.

Meanwhile, Cyd Demecillo, the heralded hero for the Lady Spikers during the first game of last season’s finals, continues to be a player that her squad can count, especially with her contributions in the attacking department. Despite being a rookie, Desiree Cheng has also been a consistent weapon for the Lady Spikers as she continues to live up to expectations.

The finals series between La Salle and Ateneo will begin on March 5, Wednesday at 4 pm in the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. For this year’s Finals, La Salle, having a thrice-to-beat advantage, needs to win just two games to clinch the championship while Ateneo needs three wins.

Volleyball fans and spectators will surely witness a different finals matchup in the next chapter of one of the most heated rivalries in collegiate volleyball today. Though the names of the teams gunning for the glory remain the same, their respective lineups will give a new and unique brand of volleyball to spectators this year.

With another La Salle-Ateneo finals affair, the stakes have never been higher. For the Lady Spikers, emerging as champions at the end of the finals series would mark the first four-peat UAAP Women’s Volleyball title in league history. Meanwhile for the Lady Eagles, coming out on top would end their two-season losing skid against La Salle and it would also grant them their first ever championship.

Will La Salle’s veteran head coach Ramil de Jesus bag another championship? Or will Ateneo head coach Ty Bundit steal the crown from La Salle to win his first championship in his maiden campaign? Watch the games to find out.