For the fourth season in a row, the DLSU Lady Spikers are set to face the ADMU Lady Eagles in the UAAP Women’s Volleyball finals. Things are different this time around, however, as La Salle enters the season finale as the underdog against their perennial rivals. On Wednesday, March 11, at 3:30 pm in the Smart-Araneta Coliseum, Game 1 of the Finals shall commence, with the protagonists in green and blue battling it out once again for the title.
The Lady Eagles booked an automatic finals berth and a thrice-to-beat advantage after finishing the eliminations undefeated, 14-0. Meanwhile, the Lady Spikers took on a rocky path to the finals as they still had to battle the NU Lady Bulldogs in the grueling two-game step-ladder semifinals in order to advance.
Losing the captain
It was a bittersweet semifinals victory for the Lady Spikers against NU last March 7. Despite finally finishing off the gritty squad in four sets, La Salle unfortunately lost Team Captain and ace player Ara Galang to a season-ending ACL and MCL injury. With Galang’s absence, members of the La Salle squad have big shoes to fill, as their team captain usually averages double-digit points per game.
Blue versus Green
Unlike in the previous seasons, Ateneo swept the Lady Spikers in both elimination games this year. With leading MVP candidate Alyssa Valdez leading the pack for the Lady Eagles, Ateneo is hopeful to continue their stellar run towards a back-to-back volleyball championship.
Meanwhile for the Lady Spikers, redemption remains to be the name of the game. After an upset finals loss in the previous year, La Salle aims to turn things around and bring the title back to Taft despite Ateneo’s outright domination in this year’s tournament.
Opponents since Season 74
The Lady Spikers and the Lady Eagles first crossed paths in the finals back in UAAP 74, when La Salle was still bannered by Cha Cruz, Michele Gumabao, and Wensh Tiu, among others.
Meanwhile, Ateneo was then powered by a promising young squad comprised by skippers Fille Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio, and Gretchen Ho. La Salle emerged on top eventually, sealing what was then their second of a three-peat championship.
The story of the volleyball finale in Season 75 followed a similar outcome. With the Lady Spikers sweeping ADMU in two games, La Salle easily dominated their counterparts from Katipunan, in a series that further solidified the two squads’ rivalry in collegiate volleyball.
Fate finally favored the Lady Eagles the following year, however, as they denied La Salle of a rare four-peat in Season 76, to clinch their first championship in UAAP history. After easily finishing the eliminations with an undefeated slate, the Lady Spikers fell apart in the finals despite holding a thrice-to-beat advantage.
This time around, though, in the Season 77 finale, it seems like Ateneo and La Salle have switched places, with Ateneo now holding the thrice-to-beat advantage against an underdog La Salle squad. But with several twists and turns that are yet to unfold, the outcome of this year’s tournament remains unpredictable as it is. With both squads hungry for the title, expect this year’s women’s volleyball finale to be another Ateneo-La Salle classic for the books.