La Salle Lady Spikers, Tigresses clash in UAAP semifinal duel

DEFENDING champion De La Salle shoots for a ninth straight championship appearance against University of Santo Tomas as the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball Final Four reels off today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The twice-to-beat Lady Spikers hope to capitalize on their vast experience in the 4 p.m. match with the third-ranked Tigresses, who are back in the playoffs after a four-year absence.

“Doon na magsa-start ang totoong labanan. Doon pa lang, huwag nang magpapatalo,” said De La Salle mentor Ramil de Jesus.

In the other Final Four pairing, top seed Ateneo seeks to close it out against No. 4 Far Eastern University at 4 p.m. tomorrow at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Victories by the Lady Spikers and the Lady Eagles will force another championship duel between the two fiercest rivals in college sports on April 29.

Despite losing several key players led by Ara Galang and Mika Reyes to graduation, La Salle was able to defy the odds as it finished the eliminations second with a 11 wins and three defeats, two of which came against Ateneo.

Making strides in coach Kungfu Reyes’ second set, UST was able to hurdle one of the most competitive seasons in league history, finishing third with a 9-5 card, and getting past much favored teams University of the Philippines and National University.

“Next step-up na kami. Hindi lang kami magse-settle sa Final Four. Mangangarap na kami ng sobra-sobra. Io-overachieve na namin kung ano ‘yung narating namin ngayon,” said Reyes.  “We came from sixth place last year, na-double namin yung paghihirap namin and this is our result for now.”

The Tigresses must able to overcome the Lady Spikers’ tremendous floor defense, where libero Dawn Macandili always make sure that the ball remains flying, as well as their old reliable blocking, with Majoy Baron doing the job.

Aside from Baron, De La Salle has a lot of offensive options with last season’s Finals MVP Kim Kianna Dy, Tin Tiamzon, Desiree Cheng and even setter Kim Fajardo, who can also produce points when needed.

EJ Laure and Cherry Rondina are UST’s most consistent players on both ends of the floor, while Dimdim Pacres was also solid in the second round.

“Good indication na ang mga bata, nabubuhay sa pakikipaglaban hanggang sa dulo. Regardless kung ano ang resulta, kung saan dadalhin ang pagtatrabaho namin. ,” said Reyes.

The Tigresses’ survival will count on their middle blocker Ria Meneses, whose solid net defense in those twin victories against the Lady Maroons and the Lady Bulldogs that carried them to the Final Four, as well as the supporting crew led by Pam Lastimosa, Chloe Cortez and Caitlyn Viray.

A UST win will send the Final Four series to a deciding game on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Game today 

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

4 p.m. – DLSU vs UST (Women Semis)

Games tomorrow: (Mall of Asia Arena)

12 noon – NU vs FEU (Men Semis) 

4 p.m. – ADMU vs FEU (Women Semis)

Topics: De La Salle , University of Santo Tomas , UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball Final Four
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