MANILA, Philippines - The La Salle Lady Spikers have had the UST Golden Tigresses' number this season through two elimination matches. And with twice-to-beat advantage, the ladies from Taft will be a formidable challenge for the Espana-based squad to overcome in the semi-final round.
Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas, and Far Eastern University are the last 4 teams standing and will now embark on a larger quest in hopes of claiming the Season 79 title.
In our first semis preview, we look at between reigning titlists and no. 2 seed La Salle and the no. 3 seed University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses:
#2 DLSU Lady Spikers (11-3) versus #3 UST Tigresses (9-5)
Elimination round: DLSU won season series 2-0
Armed with twice-to-beat advantage, defending champions La Salle take on the hungry Tigresses in the first semifinal series of Season 79. While the Lady Spikers maneuvered their way to a ninth straight Final Four appearance, UST snapped a 4-year semis drought after emerging victorious in critical games down the stretch.
La Salle took both elimination games against the Espana-based squad, but doing so wasn’t a smooth sailing path. The first round match-up took 4 sets to complete, with the Tigresses taking the second set in their foes’ 25-23, 16-25, 25-14, 25-22 victory. The Lady Spikers also ensured the Final Four advantage when they took down UST in 3 hard fought sets, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21 in their second meeting of the season.
The super duo of Sisi Rondina and EJ Laure commanded the scoring department in both losses, with significant contributions from Dimdim Pacres and Ria Meneses also worth mentioning. Net defense is also pivotal in this particular series as the Tigresses will try to keep pace with a top spiking and blocking team in La Salle.
Desiree Cheng and Tin Tiamzon stepped up big for the Lady Spikers in those two victories, while Kim Dy and Majoy Baron anchored the champs in both the offensive and defensive categories.
At the end of eliminations, the Lady Spikers continue to be the top blocking, setting, and receiving team, as seen in the statistics released by ABS-CBN Sports. They likewise dominate the league in serving (2nd) as well as in spiking (3rd), but settle for the 5th spot in digging, a department controlled by UST this year.
The Tigresses, on the other hand, remain a top offensive threat in the UAAP alongside Ateneo. They drift in the middle of the pack in setting (4th) and serving (5th), but are also at the bottom of the ladder when it comes to receiving and blocking.
The first semis series will take place on Saturday, April 22 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum. A deciding game, if needed, will see the two squads squaring off in a do-or-die match on April 26 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Which team will prevail in this semifinal series? Let us know in the comments section below!