THE UNIVERSITY Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament (WVT) goes into high gear this weekend with the Final Four set to commence.
Started the season with eight competing teams, competition now has been sliced to four deserving squads who now channel their focus on moving to the championship round and get a shot at being crowned the year’s best in the UAAP.
Top-seeded Ateneo Lady Eagles (12-2) battle the surging Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws (8-6) in one semifinal bracket while the second-seeded and defending champions De La Salle Lady Spikers (11-3) take on number three team University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses (9-5) in the other.
As the top two teams at the end of the two-round elimination play, Ateneo and La Salle enjoy twice-to-beat advantages over their Final Four opponents.
Getting things rolling in the UAAP women’s volleyball semifinals are La Salle and UST, which start their set-to tomorrow at the Smart Araneta Coliseum at 4 p.m.
The Lady Spikers have had the number of the Tigresses so far this season, sweeping the latter in their matches in the elimination round.
La Salle, however, is coming off a loss against archrival Ateneo in its last game while UST is fresh from a morale-boosting and character-building victory over the National University Lady Bulldogs that pushed it back to the Final Four after a four-year absence.
Despite being tripped last time around though, the Lady Spikers are still upbeat that they will be able to bounce back come the semifinals, using the loss to Ateneo as motivation “to better themselves” as they set forth to defend their title.
Back in the Final Four, meanwhile, UST said it is bent more than ever to take its Season 79 campaign deep as it can.
“We have achieved our goal to make it to the Final Four. But we are not stopping here and training our sights to go as deep as possible in the tournament,” said UST stalwart Sisi Rondina, who played big against NU in their last game.
KATIPUNAN VS MORAYTA
Kicking off on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena at 4 p.m., meanwhile, is Ateneo versus FEU, with the former looking to extend its supremacy over the latter following two wins in the eliminations.
But while the Katipunan-based Lady Eagles have staved off the Morayta-based Lady Tamaraws in Season 79, it was hardly easy as they were stretched to five sets each time, which has left them still wary of their semifinal foes.
“We will continue to work hard and work on our rotation. We need a total team effort in the semifinals,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sherwin Meneses.
Making a strong push of late that saw them turn their fortunes around after being left outside looking in in the Final Four picture at one point in the tournament, the Lady Tamaraws are bullish of their chances entering the Final Four.
“We are happy with what we have achieved because it’s a result of a lot preparation and the players wanting to win. In the semifinals, regardless of who we face, we will prepare for them,” said FEU coach Shaq Delos Santos.
If necessary, Game Two of the Final Four for both pairings will be on April 26, Wednesday, at the Mall of Asia Arena. -- Michael Angelo S. Murillo