In what is arguably the biggest game of this volleyball season, the DLSU Lady Spikers and the ADMU Lady Eagles will face each other one last time as they determine which team will bring home the title in Game 3 of the UAAP Season 78 Women’s Volleyball Finals tomorrow at 4 pm in the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.
After winning the series opener in a dominant fashion, the Taft-based squad failed to close out their rivals in the previous game, allowing Ateneo to complete a comeback despite DLSU leading by two sets. This time though, there will be no more room for error for either team as this will be a winner-take-all match.
Failing to deliver the final blow
Last Wednesday, the Lady Spikers fell short against the Lady Eagles in a five-set match, 18-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11. Ateneo was spearheaded by team captain Alyssa Valdez, who finished the match with 34 points on 32 attacks. Jhoana Maraguinot and Bea De Leon also added 15 and 12 points, respectively. On the other hand, Kim Dy led all La Salle scorers with 16 points on 13 attacks, followed by Mika Reyes, Ara Galang, and Cyd Demecillo, who finished with 14, 12, and 10 points, respectively.
The Lady Spikers opened the first set with an explosive start, immediately grabbing an early lead and defending it throughout the remainder of the set. Ateneo stepped up their plays to engage in a neck-and-neck match with DLSU early into the second frame. Midway through the second set, the Lady Eagles gradually took the lead to move within set point, 24-20. However, La Salle made a late rally that helped them get past ADMU to snatch the set at 28-26.
Not letting the two-set deficit get to them, the Lady Eagles continued performing various strong plays that eventually gave them a 13-7 advantage midway through the third set. Ateneo won the set at 25-17 after fending off DLSU on the defensive front. Similar to the third frame, Ateneo gained a huge lead in the middle of the fourth set. La Salle tried to catch up, but their errors prevented them from making strong runs, giving the set to ADMU in the end, 25-16. The fifth set saw the two teams caught in multiple deadlocks but the Lady Eagles gained a lead that allowed them to clinch the set and match at 15-11.
Unstoppable force meets immovable object
Finally standing on even ground, the Lady Spikers and the Lady Eagles will pull out all the stops as they go against each other for the last time this season. In a contrast of styles, it will be La Salle’s vaunted defense going against Ateneo’s potent offense. The Lady Spikers, who have the Best Digger and Receiver in Dawn Macandili and the Best Blocker in Majoy Baron, have made it hard for their opponents to score against them.
On the other hand, the Lady Eagles, led by Season MVP and best scorer Valdez, have terrorized opposing teams by dishing out unreturnable spikes brought about by good set-ups from setter Jia Morado. The squad that will be able to break through their rival’s strengths in tomorrow’s game will be the ones that will come out on top.
Leaving a legacy
The last game of the championship series will also serve as the final game for several graduating players. On DLSU’s side, Galang, Reyes, Demecillo, Carol Cerveza, and Mika Esparanza will be suiting up for the Green-and-White for the last time tomorrow. On the other hand, Ateneo will bid farewell to co-captains Valdez and Amy Ahomiro. With this, these battle-tested veterans will leave it all on the court in order to win Game 3 and end their collegiate careers on a high note.
Fans will be in for a treat in the final Ateneo-La Salle game of the season regardless of the outcome. Whether it be DLSU or ADMU that prevails in the end, tomorrow’s pivotal game will be another chapter in the most storied rivalry in Philippine collegiate sports.