Ateneo, La Salle banner blockbuster rematch as Adamson, UE collide
MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Lady Eagles and La Salle Lady Spikers headline another heated rivalry match in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament on Saturday, April 13, 4 pm, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
An unpredictable battle looms as Ateneo emerged as the No. 1 team with a 10-1 record, but that only loss came against defending champion La Salle.
There's also quite a lot riding on the game – a victory by the Lady Eagles will assure them a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four while a win by the Lady Spikers will secure them a semifinal berth.
The Lady Eagles – looking far different from the team that faced the Lady Spikers at the start of the season – already clinched the first Final Four berth after cruising through a massive 10-game winning streak. (READ: No more jitters: Ateneo vies to get even vs La Salle)
With former men's volleyball three-peat champion coach Oliver Almadro's system in place, Ateneo played to its strength to emerge as the top blocking team in the league.
After smashing the league's blocking record, Maddie Madayag leads Ateneo's net defense by posting 38 kill blocks and averaging 0.90 denials per set.
Ateneo's leading spiker Kat Tolentino continues to be a scoring threat as the league's No. 4 best scorer and her towering presence also reinforces the Lady Eagles' blockade.
The Lady Eagles' opening game against La Salle saw captain Bea de Leon getting off to a slow start. But since then, the team veteran showed much imporved form. Aside from leading the team's on-court communication, her efforts in the following games also translated to big numbers as the league's No. 3 blocker and No. 6 best server.
For sure, though, the Lady Spikers will have a game plan to spoil the Lady Eagles' momentum as they've shown many times under 11-time UAAP women's volleyball champion coach Ramil de Jesus. (READ: La Salle aims to shock Ateneo again)
La Salle continues to be the league's best serving team, highlighted by a whopping 15-ace output during the opening game against Ateneo.
The Lady Spikers – who have clearly picked up from their mid-season hiccups with a three-game winning streak – are also now the second-best blocking team thanks to the efforts of Aduke Ogunsanya and former NCAA standout Lourdes Clemente.
Aside from her scoring abilities, Desiree Cheng's swag has always been a factor against the Lady Eagles that can rock the match's on-court momentum.
Earlier at 2 pm, the league's cellar-dwelling teams Adamson Lady Falcons and University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors fight for pride in the no-bearing game.
If UE nabs a third win, head coach Karl Dimaculangan would exceed the record of the team's last two head coaches Francis Vicente and Rod Roque in one season.
And the Recto-based squad continues to hold the upperhand in offense with setter Laizah Bendong effectively dishing out a league-leading 7.02 excellent sets per frame to her main options Judith Abil, Me-an Mendrez and Seth Rodriguez.
Adamson would have to bank on veterans Eli Soyud and Bernadette Flora and some extra motivation to exact revenge on UE. – Rappler.com
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