By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
WHAT has been an eventful and competitive first-round action in University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 80 women’s volleyball comes to an end this weekend with teams going at it one more time to notch a win that they could build on heading into the next round.
All competing teams will see action in two double headers for Saturday and Sunday to be held at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City and FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City in that order.
The Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws (4-2) and University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses (2-4) collide in the 2 p.m. game while rivals De La Salle Lady Spikers (4-2) and Ateneo Lady Eagles (4-2) battle at 4 p.m. in the scheduled twin bill at MOA Arena on Saturday.
League-leading National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs (5-1), meanwhile, face off with the University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Fighting Maroons (2-4) at 2 p.m. on Sunday to be followed by the Adamson Lady Falcons (3-3) versus the still-winless University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors (0-6) at 4 p.m.
FEU and UST clash coming off opposite directions with the former on a high following its defeat of erstwhile undefeated NU last time around while the Tigresses reeling from a defeat from UP.
The Lady Tamaraws highlighted their standing as a serious title contender under coach George Pascua by subduing the Lady Bulldogs in four sets, 25-22, 25-27, 25-13 and 25-20 on Wednesday in convincing fashion.
“This win is big for us. Hopefully we get to sustain the consistency and effort in our next games,” said Mr. Pascua, whose wards have now won three straight and are looking to finish the round at second place or even joint first.
Looking to derail FEU and its winning run is UST, which has dropped its last two matches in the first round and is looking to bounce back despite not being at full strength.
La Salle and Ateneo, meanwhile, revisit their fabled rivalry for the first time in Season 80 with an eye as well in breaking off from a logjam at second place, along with FEU, and possibly take their spot at the top of the standings when the smoke clears.
Defending champion La Salle lost in its last game against Adamson in a four-set “shocker” on Feb. 24 in a game that saw the Lady Spikers play well in the first set only to taper off the rest of the way.
Ateneo, for its part, is one of the hottest teams in the UAAP right now, having won four straight after starting its season with back-to-back losses.
The Lady Eagles made short of UP in their “Battle of Katipunan” in straight sets on Feb. 25 and are looking to add the Lady Spikers in their list of victims and stretch their winning streak.
“We will prepare for La Salle. The ‘Happy Heart’ mantra of coach Tai [Bundit] has been serving us well of late and we hope to continue doing it,” said Ateneo setter Deanna Wong, who was named player of the game in their last assignment.
Meanwhile on Sunday, NU tries to rebound after absorbing its first defeat of the season at the hands of FEU against UP which halted a four-game losing streak last time around.
“We are looking forward to our next game [against NU]. It’s going to be an interesting game. I believe after this victory [over UST] we will know what to do,” said UP coach Gody Okumu heading into their clash against NU.
Adamson, for its part, is eyeing to cap off the first round on a very high note after their win over La Salle previously while UE tries to avoid a shutout in the opening half of the season and book its first win under interim coach Rod Roque.