NATIONAL University and Ateneo seek to arrange a second straight showdown for the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference crown as they go for a repeat against University of the Philippines and Far Eastern U, respectively, in the Final Four at the Philsports Arena in Pasig today.
The undermanned Lady Bulldogs survived a gritty UP side, 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 26-24, in the opener of their best-of-three semis series late Monday and the defending champions expect a tougher challenge from the Lady Maroons in their 4 p.m. encounter.
Interim coach Edjet Mabbayad has been working on an eight-player rotation with skipper Jaja Santiago and veterans Jorelle Singh, Aiko Urdas and Joy Doromal spearheading their charge with support from Risa Sato and setter Jasmine Nabor and liberos Gayle Valdez and Anne Chavez.
The Lady Bulldogs, who swept the Lady Eagles in sudden death to clinch last year’s crown in the mid-season conference of the league where it all started, scored 62 attack points against UP’s 46 in Game One but still needed to scramble to get past their rivals, who came through with 10 blocks against NU’s six.
But the Lady Bulldogs proved steadier in the end with Santiago imposing her 6-4 frame, Singh firing in clutch kills and Doromal and Sato providing solid backup and Nabor not only delivering the playmaking chores but also scoring with her dumps and kills, being a former spiker.
The Lady Maroons, however, are expected to come up with the necessary adjustments with coach Jerry Yee hopeful to draw the best from the likes of skipper Kathy Bersola, Isa Molde, Nicole Tiamzon, Marian Buitre, Justine Dorog and setter Mae Basarte.
The 6 p.m. duel between Ateneo and Far Eastern U is also expected to be fierce despite the Eagles’ shock 25-14, 28-26, 25-22 victory in Game One that sent the fancied Lady Tams’ on the verge of elimination after emerging the top seeded squad in the semis of the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s and backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
Bernadeth Pons, who sprained her ankle during warm-up and didn’t see action in Game One, is expected to suit up today and give FEU the needed firepower and poise while the likes of Toni Rose Basas, Mary Joy Palma, Anne Guino-o, Jerrili Malabanan and setter Angela Negrito hope to step up in a bid to send the series to a deciding Game Three.
But Ateneo is all fired-up to finish off FEU with skipper Michelle Morente, Bea de Leon, Kim Gequillana and Ana Gopico, along with setter Julia Morado, Pauline Gaston and Julianne Samonte playing with so much confidence after surviving a series of knockout matches to close in another finals stint.
Meanwhile, the NU-UP match will be aired on a delayed basis while the Ateneo-FEU duel will be telecast live on ABS-CBN Sports + Action Channel 23 and S + A HD 166 although the two games can be viewed live via streaming on sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/vleague, according to the organizing Sports Vision.
Games today (semis)
4 p.m. – NU vs UP
6 p.m. – Ateneo vs FEU