The UAAP women’s volleyball tournament has been a story of two teams for the past three years.
The De La Salle Lady Spikers, 8-time champion and perennial title contender are looking to bounce back from a nightmarish finish a season ago. The Ateneo Lady Eagles on the other hand, are out to prove that last year’s miracle run to their first UAAP title was not a fluke.
Both squads are equally talented and as of this writing, are both undefeated this season. They will do battle this Sunday to close out the first round in what could be in all likelihood a preview of a fourth straight finals matchup.
Here are three things to keep in mind as we head to this highly-anticipated encounter.
1. Will the back-to-back games of Ateneo work in or against the Lady Spikers’ favor?
Due to their participation in the ASEAN University Games late last year, the Lady Eagles will play two consecutive games this weekend. Before their match against the Lady Spikers on Sunday, they will battle winless UE the day before.
Of course there is the physical toll of playing back-to-back games with players having less time to rest. But given the level of opposition, expect Ateneo to make quick work and treat this as some sort of warm-up to the big game the following day.
Whether it will be a worn-out or well-oiled Ateneo team that will show up, the Lady Spikers should be prepared.
2. Can Ara Galang’s quiet demeanor rub off well on the rest of the team?
In the past seasons, we have all seen how the team feeds off from Aby Marano’s beast mode intensity on the court. Can Ara’s calm and collective approach be as effective as well?
Ara has been putting up MVP numbers each game but is the team relying on her too much? Others need to step up and deliver as well.
Sunday’s game will be a big test to Ara’s ability to bring the team together against a formidable opponent in front of thousands of screaming fans.
3. How motivated are the Lady Spikers to reclaim the title?
You can draw comparisons with this team to the 2011 team. The UAAP 73 squad was also looking to reclaim the title they lost the previous year and they were able to do so in a resounding season sweep.
This year’s team is currently 6-0 but most of their wins weren’t the dominating types we have come to expect. The grit, energy and swag is somewhat lacking.
If the Lady Spikers are really determined for redemption, Sunday’s game against the team that shamefully took the crown from them last season will be the perfect situation to prove it.