Will the Lady Eagles soar or will the Lady Bulldogs bite?

The Ateneo Lady Eagles and the NU Lady Bulldogs will close their first round of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament today at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan. Here’s everything you need to know about this match-up.

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Lady Eagles coming off a convincing win against UP

It was highly touted as the Battle of Katipunan. But in the end, the Lady Eagles showed domination by dispatching the Lady Maroons in straight sets. Ateneo capitalized on UP’s errors to control the first two sets. UP fought hard in the third but faltered during the extension.

At 5-1, Coach Oliver Almadro’s squad is looking for a nice finish to the first round. It helps that Jules Samonte and Ponggay Gaston are turning in better performances as of late while Kat Tolentino remains their main option on offense. Bea de Leon played splendidly in the UP game to be named match MVP as well.

Lady Bulldogs shock Lady Maroons

UP needed just one point to win. However, the NU Lady Bulldogs followed another script by blasting a 7-1 run to take the game in five sets. In the post-game interview, NU head coach Norman Miguel was lost for words with what just happened. But during that stretch, Ivy Lacsina, Gelina Luceno, Bingle Landicho, Audrey Paran, and Jennifer Nierva happened.

Young they may be, the Lady Bulldogs will not go down without a fight. The concerns that beset their cause in the off-season and early into Season 81, coupled with the fact that their core has been playing together for years in high school, might have helped them a tight and tough unit.

Why Ateneo will win this game?

The Lady Eagles can clinch their sixth win in seven games because anyone from them can just take over and lead the team to victory. Last game, it was De Leon who was named player of the game. Prior to that, it was Madayag. Tolentino has also been named P.O.G. That unpredictability will cause problems for NU, especially in trying to guess where the point of attack is.

Why NU will win this game?

They have two talented hitters in Lacsina and Princess Robles plus an impressive libero in Nierva. It’s hard to sleep against this Lady Bulldogs squad anymore especially after the UP game. There’s just no quit in them. Just when Lacsina and Robles might be checked by net defenders, Paran and Doria can sneak in their attacks as well.

What are the keys to victory for both teams?

Dominating the middle would be Ateneo’s advantage. Doria and Luceno are talented players but Madayag and De Leon has the advantage in those match-ups. Setter Deanna Wong should activate her talented middles as much as possible. Once that has been established, their hitters can get better looks. Blocking should also be on-point to take NU’s confidence away.

Meanwhile, Joni Chavez must keep the offense simple for NU and refrain from fancy sets as much as possible. A steady floor defense from the likes of Nierve, Landicho, Robles, and Doria will also provide them with more scoring opportunities. Finally, challenging Gaston, Samonte, and Kim Gequillana on service could produce a number of good first balls that will limit Ateneo’s conversion rate.

Injury report

Joyme Cagande remains to be out for NU due to the injury she suffered since their UAAP Season 81 opener against the FEU Lady Tamaraws. Meanwhile, no major injuries have been reported from the Lady Eagles camp.

Where will the game be played and how to get there?

The match will be played at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan. Nearby landmarks are the Santolan Town Plaza and the San Juan main police station. You can ride the LRT 2 line (Santolan-Recto) and alight at J. Ruiz station. From there, you can ride a tricycle for Filoil for Php 40 for a special trip. You can split the fare if there’s three or four of you.

Those who will be coming from Rizal or the outskirts of Pasig (Manggahan, Santolan, Rosario), can ride a bus to Quiapo and alight at Filoil. Fans can also ride a jeep to San Juan or Pinaglabanan from Robinson’s Galleria. Those who will be coming from Manila (i.e. Recto, Mendiola, Legarda) can ride a bus going to Taytay or Cainta and it will pass by Filoil.

What time is the game and where can I watch?

Broadcast for the Ateneo-NU game will start at March 16 (Saturday) at 2 pm. Those who would like to watch the game at the venue itself can purchase tickets via the SM Tickets website or at ticket booth at any SM Cinema. Tickets could be sold at Filoil itself but availability might be limited given that it’s a weekend game.

If you can’t make it to the venue, you can still catch the game via ABS-CBN Sports and Action, S & A HD, Liga, Liga HD, and the iWant Sports app.

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