La Salle, FEU clash in Finals rematch as Ateneo vies to stay solo on top
MANILA, Philippines – The La Salle Lady Spikers and Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws clash in a rematch of last season's Finals while the Ateneo Lady Eagles look to secure the solo lead at the end of their first-round campaign in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament.
Last year, La Salle swept FEU in the best-of-three championship series to complete its three-peat bid.
Momentum will be a factor in this matchup as La Salle just got back on track against University of the East (UE) after surprisingly absorbing back-to-back losses. FEU, meanwhile, looks to ride on its three-game winning streak.
The bounce-back win over UE proved crucial for the Lady Spikers as Tin Tiamzon and rookie Marionne Alba earned their first start this season and stepped up for injured veterans Desiree Cheng and May Luna.
Tiamzon and Alba hope to backstop Jolina dela Cruz anew, the star rookie who has been leading La Salle's attack with a total of 74 points off 57 spikes, 10 blocks and 7 aces.
FEU's winning streak, on the other hand, has been hinged on veter Celine Domingo, who's norming 13.8 points and also sharing the title of league top blocker with Ateneo's Maddie Madayag as they both average 0.78 blocks per set.
The Lady Tamaraws also boast their own rookie sensation in Lycha Ebon, who has proven herself worthy of inheriting the jersey number of last season's hero Bernadeth Pons.
Ebon leads the team in scoring with a total of 86 points off 69 attacks, 12 aces and 5 blocks.
La Salle and FEU – tied with idle University of Santo Tomas at 2nd spot with 4-2 slates – collide on Saturday, March 16, at 4 pm at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Ateneo, the solo leader with a 5-1 record, takes the floor at 2 pm against a talented and equally hungry National University (NU) team, which recently ended its skid with an upset of UP.
Ateneo hopes to play to its strength in scoring behind Kat Tolentino, who ranks 3rd in scoring with 97 points off 74 spikes, 16 blocks and 7 aces.
While Madayag remains as one of the league's top blockers, captain Bea de Leon has also become a threat with her quick attacks while also leading the team in serving.
There has been a huge improvement on Ateneo's floor defense as well as open spikers Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte have been delivering at the backrow to barge into the top 10 receivers of the league.
But the rookie-laden Lady Bulldogs have shown they can conquer the seniors division thanks to its core composed of former members of NU-Nazareth Schoo, thel UAAP girls volleyball four-peat champions.
While Ivy Lacsina continues to give NU the firepower, outside hitter Princess Robles provides their opposite's needed support especially from the service line as she tops the league with 16 aces. – Rappler.com
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