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Ateneo, La Salle collide in finals rematch

By Dugout Philippines

QUEZON CITY--Defending champion Ateneo seeks to complete a first round sweep as it tangles arch rival De La Salle on Saturday in the UAAP Season 78 women's volleyball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Lady Eagles defeated the Lady Spikers in all of their four meetings last year, including two in the Finals, where the Taft-based squad played without Ara Galang, who was sidelined with a season-ending knee injury. Ateneo actually has a six-game winning streak against De La Salle dating back March 2014.

Treating the way just like any other Lady Eagles' opponent, reigning MVP Alyssa Valdez's remaining duels with the Lady Spikers will be just business as usual in the 4:30 p.m. clash which is expected to draw huge crowd at the Big Dome.

"Iba talaga any game kapag Ateneo-La Salle," said Valdez. "Ayoko iniisip na last ko ito. I really take my time. I'm making the most out of the few months na ibinibigay sa akin. It's just another game for us."

The Lady Eagles and the Lady Spikers have crossed paths in the Finals in the last four years, with the latter winning the first two championship series.

Winning a school record of 24 straight matches, Ateneo is solid, not only with Valdez along with their frontliners Amy Ahomiro, Bea de Leon and Maddie Madayag, thanks to Jia Morado's brillant orchestrating of plays.

"Pipilitin naming makasabay sa kanila at less errors para maganda ang lalaruin namin," said La Salle coach Ramil De Jesus.

Not all the Lady Eagles have the advantage against the Lady Spikers. De La Salle's deep roster is Ateneo's main worry, that's why De Jesus has a luxury of picking on who can battle along against coach Tai Bundit's side.

Of course with Galang back, the Lady Spikers are raring to avenge their previous losses against the Lady Eagles.

De La Salle, which still has University of Santo Tomas as its remaining first round foe, is running second with a 4-1 card.

In the curtain raiser, Adamson University (2-4) seeks to post its first winning streak of the season against lowly University of the East (0-6) at 12:30 p.m. Tickets for Saturday's doubleheader are sold separately.

Men's titleholder Ateneo (5-1) and National University (4-1) clash in a rematch of last year's title series at 10 a.m. right after Adamson University (5-1) and UST (1-4) take on the floor at 8 a.m.

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