De La Salle University Lady Spikers — UAAP MEDIA TEAM/ NEO GARCIA

Games Wednesday
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
10 a.m. — DLSU vs AdU (Men)
12 noon — UE vs FEU (Men)
2 p.m. — DLSU vs AdU (Women)
4 p.m. — UE vs FEU (Women)

REIGNING champion De La Salle University (DLSU) now has to mop up its three remaining matches to stay in the thick of the Top Two race for the desired twice-to-beat incentives in the UAAP women’s volleyball Final Four — if it wishes to stabilize a successful title retention bid.

And that journey — made tougher with the continuous absence of Season 85 MVP Angel Canino — starts right away against the also-ran but feisty Adamson University (AdU) after a costly loss at the hands of rival National University (NU) to fall all the way to third place.

Game time is at 2 p.m. with the Lady Spikers, now lagging behind at 9-2, eyeing no less than a quick rebound against the capable Lady Falcons (3-8) to catch up with the league leaders once more in a possible three-way logjam at No. 1.

A loss would put the destiny away out of De La Salle’s hands as University of Santo Tomas (UST) and NU, with similar 10-2 slates, have gained ground in the tightrope race, thanks to the Lady Bulldogs’ crucial victory last weekend.

De La Salle had a tough time against the listless University of the Philippines (1-11) and University of the East (2-9) in its first two tries without Ms. Canino before finally being sent crashing to the ground by NU in a four-set defeat, 25-23, 23-25, 16-25, 22-25.

The contest for the win-once bonuses is the only important race left down the wire in a wild two-round elims after Far Eastern University (FEU), at 7-4, eliminated all other contenders to complete the semifinals cast. But more than that, FEU’s stunning win over Santo Tomas to get it done, coupled by La Salle’s costly loss, now has suddenly opened a window of opportunity for the Lady Tamaraws to squeak by in the race for the Top Two.

It’s here for the taking and the Lady Tamaraws are out to pounce on the golden chance against University of the East (UE) in the main game at 4 p.m.

In the men’s play, De La Salle (8-3) seeks to secure a Final Four berth against Adamson (4-7) at 10 a.m. as top-ranked FEU (10-1) shoots for at least a playoff for one of the twice-to-bet incentives against UE (1-10) at 12 noon. — John Bryan Ulanday