THE Ateneo Lady Eagles are already Final Four-bound in the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament with a twice-to-beat advantage to boot, but the mind-set for them is still to go all out and continue to work hard knowing that by doing so they are helping themselves for the tougher battles ahead.
Defeated the University of the East (UE) Lady Warriors in straight sets in their game last Sunday, the Lady Eagles tied the defending champions De La Salle Lady Spikers at the top of the standings with an 11-2 record and fortified their road to a top-two finish in the elimination round.
Despite being rendered a “no-bearing” game, Ateneo was in its element in dispatching UE in a shutout, this notwithstanding key stalwart Jhoana Maraguinot rested for said game.
The Lady Eagles soared right from the opening gates, building early leads in each of the three sets over the Lady Warriors from which the latter could not recover from to bow, 25-18, 25-12 and 25-10.
“This game might have been a ‘no-bearing’ game but with Coach Tai [Bundit] there is no such thing as being 10-2 or holding a twice-to-beat advantage. We continue to work hard in training. It’s like 0-0 still,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sherwin Meneses after their victory over UE.
“We will continue to make adjustments, fine-tuning our game leading to the semifinals because competition there is different,” he added.
For Ateneo skipper and setter Jia Morado, the confidence they can get in the wind-up of the eliminations is vital as they bid to go deeper in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season.
“We want to wrap up the elimination round with as much wins as we can to build confidence. We are happy we are right not but our mind-set is to stay consistent and build on our team work,” the veteran Morado said.
SHOWDOWN WITH LA SALLE
Next for Ateneo is a rematch this season with La Salle on the final playdate of the elimination round on Saturday, April 8, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. It is a decider who gets to secure the top seed in the Final Four.
In their first encounter, the Lady Eagles beat the Lady Spikers in four sets, 26-24, 26-24, 21-25 and 25-17.
Michelle Morente had a game-high 25 points to lead Ateneo to the victory over their rivals while Kat Tolentino added 18.
“It’s going to be all out still against La Salle, like any game involving the two teams. It may be no-bearing as well since we are both inside the Final Four but every time you step on the court, the goal is always to win and you must give your best,” said Mr. Meneses.
“We are treating the La Salle game as a must-win still,” he added.
“I’m sure La Salle is preparing for us as much as we are preparing for them,” Morado, meanwhile, said.
“They are veteran team and we must be ready for them,” she added.