As the French say, c’est la guerre – ‘This is war.’ And tomorrow is going to be a war between two-time champions Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles and back-to-back champions De La Salle Lady Spikers for the second time in the UAAP Season 80.
One team is fighting for its life, the other is just waiting for another prey. Here’s a preview of the highly-anticipated rematch of what is dubbed as the biggest rivalry in collegiate sports.
Big battle of the brainiacs
Just like every other war, the much-awaited face-off of last year’s finalists will all boil down to who has the better strategist—their setters.
Coming into this dogfight, Ateneo and La Salle both have two of the league’s top playmakers in their squad—the blue corner will be paraded by Deanna Wong while the green squad will banner Michelle Cobb. Both setters are filling in the shoes of legends Jia Morado and Kim Fajardo who lorded the stats in their career.
After the surprise departure of Morado last season, who decided to forego her fifth and final year of eligibility, all the immense pressure was on Wong to fill in the void the UAAP 77 best setter has left behind. Wong saw limited action as a setter in her rookie year and suited up as a libero back in season 79, raising eyebrows on her exposure and mental toughness.
Sure enough, the Cebuana orchestrator answered to the call and now leads the pack of setters, averaging 8.75 excellent sets per frame. Wong has gradually mastered the quicker offense system Coach Tai Bundit has instilled in his squad. With the five-foot-eight setter peaking at the right time, outside hitters Jho Maraguinot and Kat Tolentino have been feasting on one-man block defending them over the net
On the green side, Cobb is touted as the more experienced playmaker, seeing action as a part of the Lady Spikers’ double substitution. Just like her rival on the blue side, Cobb is also the heir to three-time UAAP Best Setter Fajardo’s throne.
Rising to the challenge, Cobb is not far behind in the race, averaging 8.28 excellent sets per frame, maximizing middle blockers Majoy Baron and Aduke Ogunsanya thanks to the defense masterclass of libero Dawn Macandili.
The battle between these setters will go down the wire, and whoever has the sharpest eyes and toughest mind to orchestrate their offense will surely hoist their flag on the top.
Supremacy vs Survival
The Lady Spikers’ match against bitter rivals from Katipunan has virtually no bearing, but for the latter, everything is about survival. After exacting revenge on their 2nd round matchup against the Adamson Lady Falcons, the Lady Spikers have secured one of the two highly-coveted twice-to-beat edge tickets and are now just waiting for their matchup against the Jaja Santiago led National University Lady Bulldogs.
Stakes are not high for the defending champs, but the Taft squad is not known to let up a match, let alone a match against their archrivals. This match is gonna be nothing but about pride, and DLSU shows no sign of letting anything taint their record.
On the other hand, the Lady Eagles were on the right track to securing at least a playoff spot after winning 5 straight matches following their defeat to the Taft-based squad at the end of the first round. But in a sudden turn of events, their Katipunan neighbors University of the Philippines shell-shocked the Lady Eagles in a three-set sweep in their second round matchup, hurting Ateneo’s chance of securing a twice-to-beat edge.
With their backs against the wall, the Lady Eagles have to defeat their rivals to at least force a playoffs against the FEU Lady Tamaraws for the twice-to-beat edge.
In a nutshell:
- An NU win and an Ateneo win gives Ateneo the second twice-to-beat edge ticket and will face FEU
- An FEU win and an Ateneo win forces a playoff between the Lady Eagles and Lady Tamaraws for the twice-to-beat advantage
- An NU win and a DLSU win also forces a playoff between Ateneo and FEU
- An FEU win and a DLSU win gives the Lady Tamaraws the twice-to-beat edge facing Ateneo.
Everything boils down to heart. Will the Archers’ arrows yet again hit the target on Ateneo? Or will the Eagles finally evade their archrivals DLSU? It’s Ateneo-DLSU: Part 2!
Who do you think will win between the Lady Eagles and the Lady Spikers? Comment your thoughts below!