By John Bryan Ulanday
IMMACULATE National University (NU) aims to complete a first-round wipeout against University of the Philippines (UP) to shore up its Final Four drive while multiple squads jockey for position in the middle pack of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Undefeated in six starts, the Lady Bulldogs tie knots with the slumping Fighting Maroons at 12 p.m. to take a pristine record on to the second round, where they are expecting to carry a bigger target on their backs.
Not far behind are Santo Tomas (4-2) and La Salle (4-2), which will clash against different counterparts to stay a stone’s throw away from pace-setting NU entering the second round.
The Golden Tigresses collide with streaking champion Ateneo (3-3) in a rematch of the last UAAP volleyball finals before the pandemic at 4 p.m. while the Lady Spikers seek to add to the piling woes of FEU at 6 p.m.
In the opener at 10 a.m., University of the East (UE) (0-6) is bent on dodging a first-round shutout against Adamson (3-3).
The young Lady Bulldogs behind the brilliance of debuting mentor Karl Dimaculangan has been a revelation this season after surrendering only two sets so far in their sizzling 6-0 start.
But while that should be enough to install them as the tall favorites against the Fighting Maroons, Mr. Dimaculangan wants more from his wards.
“I’m always reminding the team to stay hungry. Wala pa kaming napapatunayan. Hopefully, matapos namin itong round nang maayos at maging mas ready pa sa second round,” said coach Karl Dimaculangan after NU mauled Far Eastern University (FEU), 25-10, 25-11, 25-12, in only 79 minutes for the season’s fastest game the other day.
The Fighting Maroons, for their part, are out to catch a big fish in the Lady Bulldogs while bidding to end their three-game losing skid after a 3-0 start to fall deep in the standings.