By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
AN eventful first round of women’s volleyball in Season 81 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines comes to an end this weekend with all competing teams seeing action and looking to build momentum heading into the next round.
League-leading Ateneo Blue Eagles (5-1) will play the National University Lady Bulldogs (2-4) in the curtain-raiser at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, while the defending champions De La Salle Lady Spikers (4-2) take on last year’s runners-up Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws (4-2) at 4 p.m.
On Sunday, March 17, the final day of the opening round, the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses (4-2) collide with the University of the East Lady Warriors (1-5) at 2 p.m. and in the second game at 4 p.m. it will be the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons (3-3) against the Adamson Lady Falcons (1-5).
All matches will be played at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
After opening its Season 81 campaign with a loss, Ateneo has channeled the unstoppable under coach Oliver Almadro, winning five straight to date to move its way to the top of the heap.
The Lady Eagles were dominant especially in their last three matches, against UE, UP and Adamson in that order, showing a balanced attack that opposing teams are having a hard time matching up with.
They are now to seek extend their fine form against NU, which is coming off a spirited five-set win over UP also on Wednesday.
“NU has a lot of talented players, talented rookies. We have to prepare for them because we know they will challenge us,” Mr. Almadro said of their next opponent.
Meanwhile, La Salle hopes to win back-to-back games and end the first round on a high note.
Dealt two straight defeats prior to their victory against UE last time around, the Lady Spikers are angling to be back in the upswing anew.
Rookie Jolina Dela Cruz is leading the charge for La Salle with 12.3 points, followed by Aduke Ogunsanya with 10 points a game.
Desiree Cheng and May Luna are also delivering for the Lady Spikers with 8.8 and 8.7 markers, respectively.
FEU, for its part, has been on a roll, winning its last three assignments and is aiming to add La Salle to its list of conquered.
Lady Tamaraws rookie Lycha Ebon is the top-scorer for her team with 14.3 points per match with Celine Domingo (13.8 points) and Heather Guino-o (12.6 points) backstopping her.
In Sunday’s games, UST goes for its third straight win while UE looks to wiggle out of a three-match skid.
UP, meanwhile, has lost some steam after a strong start to the season. It has lost its last two games and is gunning for a break against Adamson, loser also of its last two.