MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo vows to get back at semifinal conqueror Far Eastern University (FEU), while University of the Philippines (UP) aims to return to the win column versus University of the East (UE) in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament.
Ateneo, still toting just one loss this season (8-1), tries to ride on a huge momentum following a sweep of preseason favorite UP, which they dispatched in straight sets in both elimination-round meetings.
This time, the Lady Eagles hope to do the same against the squad that sent them packing in the Final Four last season.
In their first-round clash, the Lady Eagles had a slow start against the Lady Tamaraws but extended the match to a decider where they took control.
As Kat Tolentino and Maddie Madayag continue to lead the Lady Eagles' frontline, FEU also braces for a different and stronger Ateneo team that has improved in floor defense and playmaking.
Deanna Wong, for instance, had a difficult time living up to her billing as reigning Best Setter early but had since climbed to 3rd place by dishing out 5.86 sets per frame.
The first-round FEU win also sparked the momentum of outside hitters Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte as they made it to the top 10 receivers of the league, as well as converted libero Kim Gequillana.
Gaston also ranks 4th on the Best Server list, making 0.37 aces per set.
But FEU (7-3) – which is vying for a share of second with defending champion La Salle – is an equally veteran team that has managed to stay on course despite losing topscoring rookie Lycha Ebon to injury.
Ivana Agudo again looks to prove that she can lead FEU's offense while senior playmaker Kyle Negrito, currently tied with National University's Princess Robles as Best Server with 0.53 aces per set, tries to do better in stabilizing FEU's offense and contributing from the service line.
Ria Duremdes has also helped the Lady Tamaraws' cause as the current leader in the digging department, executing 6.83 digs per set.
Ateneo and FEU clash on Wednesday, April 3, 4 pm, at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Earlier at 2 pm, the UP Lady Maroons (5-4) remain fired up to keep their Final Four bid alive by conquering UE (2-7).
The Lady Maroons have to do it, though, minus the services of stalwart Isa Molde as she's expected to rest her injured left ankle for one game.
Still, the Lady Maroons vow to step up in other facets of their game such as in blocking, where Maristela Layug and Lorie Bernardo can take over to limit UE's spikers Me-an Mendrez and Judith Abil.
UE, however, is no team to mess with as it stretched the match against UP to 5 sets in the season opener.
Mendrez is coming off a 22-point outburst over FEU while Abil tallied 16 thanks to Lai Bendong's topnotch playmaking that has proven to be more consistent.
Bendong widened the gap in the Best Setter list as she dishes out a league-best 6.86 excellent sets per frame. – 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.