MANILA, Philippines – Mid-ranked teams University of Santo Tomas (UST), Far Eastern University (FEU) and University of the Philippines (UP) enter another set of crucial matches on Wednesday, April 10, that may just determine their chances of reaching the Final Four.
Preseason favorite UP is at the toughest spot among the 3 teams competing for playoff berths in the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball tournament as it holds a 6-5 slate while UST and FEU don identical 7-4 records.
It does not help that UST dealt UP its first loss in 3 games at the start of the season, so a sweep will push the Lady Maroons further down the standings.
With the Golden Tigresses' momentum priming them to take their opponents down, it has also opened up chances for spikers other than Sisi Rondina and Eya Laure to step up.
Rondina and Laure, though, remain as the key factors to UST's fine form, proving to be a 1-2 punch as they continue to top the league's best scorers and best spikers list.
The Lady Maroons are also dealing with a shorthanded lineup as Isa Molde continues to recover from a left ankle injury.
However, the veteran presence of Tots Carlos and Ayel Estrañero continue to keep the Lady Maroons together.
Carlos, though overworked by FEU, managed to produce 22 points off 19 attacks, 2 aces and 1 block while making 23 excellent digs and 18 excellent receptions.
UST and UP clash at 4 pm at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
At 2 pm, the FEU Lady Tamaraws look to solidify their team's adjustments that proved to overpower the Lady Maroons last Saturday, April 6.
They go up against the eliminated National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs, who put up a fight against the league-leading Ateneo Lady Eagles.
FEU's key adjustment has been on veteran Heather Guino-o who racked up a triple-double of 22 points, 22 excellent digs and 12 excellent receptions while captain Jerrili Malabanan stepped up with 17 points. (READ: Pascua: FEU Lady Tamaraws still at 70%)
The Lady Tamaraws are also playing a man down as top scorer Lycha Ebon is recovering from a right knee injury.
While FEU still struggles with its reception, it would have to be wary on the league's second-best serving team as Princess Robles and Roselyn Doria have been threatening – even the big teams – with their aces.
Though eliminated, the Lady Bulldogs aim to finish strong even it will mean playing spoiler to the remaining teams vying for Final Four berths. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.