Posted Feb 16th 2014
Undefeated La Salle, red-hot Ateneo collide
By Josiah Albelda Posted Jan 12th 2014
Are you ready for this?
Bitter rivals De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University collide for the first time in the 76th UAAP women's volleyball tournament before an expectedly massive crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.
Armed with a 21-game winning streak across two seasons, the Lady Spikers seek to extend that stirring run against the Lady Eagles, who have been sizzling themselves in their last five outings.
La Salle is looking for a fourth straight title and with Ateneo being considered as one of their prime challengers, the Lady Spikers are expected to come out firing in their 4:00pm tussle.
The last time both teams met proved to be a downer, as the Taft spikers proved to be too much in a straight-set sweep that sealed their third consecutive championship.
Several marquee players have been gone since then, with La Salle losing vital cogs Michele Gumabao and Liss Gohing and the Lady Eagles seeing Gretchen Ho, Fille Cainglet, A Nacachi, Dzi Gervacio and Jem Ferrer leave due to graduation.
Still, fireworks as expected as UAAP leading scorer Alyssa Valdez will be spearheading the charge for the crowd favorites as they go up against the Lady Spikers' stonewall defense.
La Salle ranks first in blocking and reception, coming up with 8.8 killed blocks per outing as they ran away blemish-free in their first six games.
Two-time MVP Aby Marano and reigning co-MVP Ara Galang will be at the forefront of the Lady Spikers' attack and will be ably supported by their strong crew that also features Mika Reyes, Cyd Demecillo, Kim Fajardo and rookie Des Cheng.
On the other hand, Valdez will get help from Amy Ahomiro, but Ateneo could miss top rookie Ana Gopico, who went down with an injury in the fourth set of their win over University of Santo Tomas.
Pending the results of Gopico's MRI, expect Marge Tejada, Aeriel Patnongon and Ella de Jesus to take the cudgels for a team still missing head coach Tai Bundit.
The game will air live over Studio 23, BALLS HD 167 and uaapsports.tv with a same day replay at 10 p.m. on BALLS SkyCable channel 34 or Destiny Cable channel 36.