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Ateneo-La Salle match highlights rare UAAP women's volleyball triple-header

By Dugout Philippines

PASAY--Defending champion Ateneo seeks to jump straight to the Finals with a thrice-to-beat incentive when it clashes with La Salle in the UAAP Season 77 women's volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Gametime is at 4 p.m., with the Lady Spikers serving as the biggest stumbling block for the Lady Eagles' sweep bid.

Tickets for the Ateneo-La Salle match and the first two women's division games are sold separately.       

NU (6-6) tries to inch closer in making it to the semifinals for the third straight year against Adamson (5-7) at 12 noon, while UP (5-7), fresh from last Saturday's close shave to UST (5-8), battles FEU (4-8) at 2 p.m.       

A win by the Lady Spikers would also make life easier for the five other teams contending for the two remaining semis berths who might be dragged in a long step-ladder format.

"Hindi magiging mahirap ang pagdaraanan sa pagpunta sa Finals. Siguro, five teams yung kasama ko doon sa nagdadasal," said La Salle mentor Ramil de Jesus.        

Not even the injury bug that the Lady Eagles had hit lately on their middle spikers led by rookie Bea de Leon make the Lady Spikers favored in the match-up between the finalists of the last three seasons.        

"Hangga't nandoon si (Alyssa) Valdez, hindi magiging advantage sa amin yun," said de Jesus.

With a rare 14-game double-round elimination sweep looming at the horizon, Ateneo is simply focusing on enjoying the game despite the handicaps.      

"Our mindset is one game at a time. Iniisip lang namin yung last game (ng elims) at saka na ang future games. Kailangan lang maglaro ng maayos. We have to be mentally prepared on the 18th," said Valdez.       

The Lady Eagles are coming off a 25-22, 25-17, 26-24 decision over winless UE last Sunday, where Ateneo rallied from a 12-point third set deficit to win.       

On the same day, La Salle, showing its readiness against the Lady Eagles, hammered out an easy 25-13, 25-15, 25-17 victory over the Lady Falcons, as the Lady Spikers drew huge games from Ara Galang and Desiree Cheng.         

The Lady Bulldogs won their last two games that put them in great position of bagging the third semis berth and possibly avoiding the Lady Eagles in the playoffs. 

For Adamson, the Lady Maroons and the Lady Tamaraws, there is no room for error if they want stay alive in the post-season race.