UNBLEMISHED National University Lady Bulldogs — THE UAAP

Main game of the second round of women’s volleyball

UNBLEMISHED National University (NU) is out to pick up where it left off, looking to assert mastery of third-running La Salle to maintain a perfect run and boost its playoff bid at the start of the crucial  University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 84 women’s volleyball second round at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Wiping out their first round competition with a 7-0 card for their best start in school history, the fancied Lady Bulldogs want no let-up in the main game at 6:30 p.m. opposite the vengeful-seeking Lady Spikers (5-2).

At 10 a.m., No. 2 Santo Tomas (5-2) that just came off a huge win against reigning champion Ateneo collides with dangerous Adamson (4-3) while struggling squads University of the Philippines (UP) (3-4) and University of the East (UE) (0-7) battle at 12:30 p.m.

After a dismal first-round campaign, the Blue Eagles (3-4) for their part seek to regain bearings at 4 p.m. versus Far Eastern University (FEU) (1-6).

NU, which never swept the first round until this season, made short work of La Salle via straight sets in the first round and a repeat win on Thursday would shore up their bid for a runaway Final Four spot and possibly an outright finals berth.

Ateneo in 2014 was the last team to sweep the entire elims, making it a tough act to follow for NU with teams expected to get back on them after a dominant first-round showing.

“We’re expecting adjustments and familiarity from other teams so we have to be prepared. Mas mahirap na ang mga games na darating,” said first-year mentor Karl Dimaculangan as NU only dropped two sets in the first phase.

“Our focus is to take it one game at a time. We’re thankful for the wins in the first round, but we still have to improve every game,” he added.

The Lady Bulldogs only lost a set each against defending titlist Ateneo and runner-up Santo Tomas, adding fuel on the other end for the charged-up La Salle squad eyeing no less than a vengeance.

“’Yung first round against NU, medyo off talaga tayo. Maghahanda tayo. Hopefully, (we can play) better than the last encounter,” said La Salle deputy Benson Bocboc after absorbing their 25-22, 25-15, 25-19 defeat. — John Bryan Ulanday