By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

THEIR spots in the next round of Season 81 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines already assured as the elimination round closes, top teams Ateneo Lady Eagles and De La Salle Lady Spikers are not to hold back and instead have bowed to continue working to see their respective championship aspirations through.

Currently perched at the top and second spot, respectively, in the standings, Ateneo (11-2) and La Salle (10-3), while thankful and happy over where they are right now, recognize that they have not done anything yet and that bigger challenges lie ahead that would require them to be at their utmost best.

With their straight-sets win over the Adamson Lady Falcons on Wednesday, 25-16, 28-26 and 25-17, the Lady Eagles have assured themselves of a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four of UAAP Season 81.

It is a situation that Ateneo is welcoming albeit believes does not guarantee anything yet as far as winning the championship.

“We can still do better. We still need to work on our game,” said Ateneo stalwart Maddie Madayag following their victory over Adamson in a game that they still had their struggles, particularly in the second set where they are were forced to go into overdrive.

“We are happy with the win, of course, but we are heading into the last part of the eliminations and we have to be ready,” Lady Eagles captain Bea De Leon, for her part, said.

For Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro, gaining the twice-to-beat edge is one thing but it would all be for nothing if they do not complement it with added work to go deep in the tournament.

“We are thankful to have gotten the twice-to-beat and have a chance to go to the finals. But it is only a chance, a chance, and we still have to work for it,” he added.

On La Salle’s side, while it has to officially book a twice-to-beat advantage, it knows what it needs to do to remain as women’s volleyball champions.

“We still have to work on our game. We are now on the last part and we have to be ready heading into the next round,” said La Salle coach Ramil De Jesus following their straight-sets victory over the University of the East Lady Warriors, 25-17, 25-16 and 25-19, also on Wednesday.

Ateneo and La Salle finish their elimination assignments this weekend against different opponents and both have vowed to work hard and end on a winning note.

The Lady Eagles play UE (3-10) on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City with La Salle taking on the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws (8-5) after at 4 p.m.

Games on Saturday, meanwhile, will see the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses (9-4) battling the National University Lady Bulldogs (4-9) at 2 p.m. and the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons (6-7) colliding with Adamson (1-12) at 4 p.m. Venue is FilOil Flying V Arena.