THE elimination round of the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament comes to a close this weekend with a pair of matches still packing playoff implications.
To take place at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tomorrow, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses (8-5) battle the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs (7-6) at 12 noon while the Ateneo Lady Eagles take on defending champions and rivals De La Salle Lady Spikers at 4 p.m.
The UST-NU tiff is for the last semifinal slot where a win by the Tigresses earn for them the third seed in the Final Four while a victory by the Lady Bulldogs forces a three-way tie for numbers three to five at 8-6 along with the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws.
In such a logjam scenario, however, FEU still advances on the strength of a superior quotient (26 points) over UST (24) and NU (19), leaving the latter two to dispute the final semifinal berth in a playoff.
UST enters the match against NU fresh from its three-sets win over the already-ousted University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons last Sunday.
“This win [over UP] boosted our chances of making it to the Final Four. It’s in our hands and if we can help it we will not allow it to slip away from us,” said UST coach Kungfu Reyes following their victory that earned them at least a playoff to enter the Final Four.
EJ Laure led three Tigresses in double digits with 15, followed by Sisi Rondina with 14 and Ria Meneses with 10 points.
NU, meanwhile, has lost its last two games and is in danger of missing the semifinals if it does not get its act together in time.
The latest of the Lady Bulldogs’ defeat came at the hands of FEU last Saturday in three sets.
Jaja Santiago and Jorelle Singh combined for 31 points but it was not enough to tow their team to the win.
In their previous encounter in the first round, UST got the better of NU in four sets.
BLUE VERSUS GREEN
Meanwhile, Ateneo faces off with La Salle for the second time in Season 79 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines with the top seed in the Final Four at stake.
Both sporting identical 11-2 records and have a twice-to-beat advantage over their opponents in the semifinals, it is about positioning between the Blue and Green as well as for pride and bragging rights.
Ateneo took round one of their face-off this season in four sets with Michelle Morente and Kat Tolentino leading the charge with 25 and 18 points, respectively.
Despite getting the better of their rivals in the opening round, the Lady Eagles are fully aware that the Lady Spikers will try to exact payback when they next meet, necessitating for them to come prepared.
“It’s going to be all out still against La Salle, like any game involving the two teams. It may be no-bearing 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 Ateneo assistant coach Sherwin 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. They are a veteran team and we must be ready for them,” Ateneo skipper and setter Jia Morado, meanwhile, said.