The defending champion Ateneo De Manila Lady Eagles got archrival De La Salle Lady Spikers’ number in their past three meeting dating back from last year’s last two championship games.Ateneo eked out a thrilling 25-22, 25-27, 16-25, 25-14, 15-9 win last month against the Lady Spikers at the end of the 77th UAAP women’s volleyball first round and are now on the brink of sweeping the 14-game eliminations on Wednesday with no less than their green-colored jersey nemesis standing in their way.However, the Lady Eagles will be shorthanded this time with their lineup – frontline to be exact – riddled with injuries.Ateneo is undermanned with top rookie Bea De Leon sidelined with a finger injury. The other pieces in the middle for coach Tai Bundit could play but are not in top shape after both veteran Aeriel Patnongon and Madeleine Madayag tweaked their left ankle a week ago against University of Sto. Tomas.
Something that reigning Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez acknowledges as a huge disadvantage compared to a healthy La Salle line up. Ateneo is left with a gap at center with only Amy Ahomiro playing healthy.The effects of them being shorthanded were obvious last Sunday, specifically in the third set, where Ateneo needed to muster the spirit of their heart strong mantra to get out of a 12-point hole and come up on top against the lowly University of the East.
The Lady Eagles at one point had to rotate Jho Maraguinot in the middle.“Hindi naman namin ginusto na kulang kami, hindi namin sinasadya,”Valdez said. “For sure naman kung wala rin namang injuries o kahit ano for sure magagamit din naman lahat.”
While Ateneo is scrambling with their limited personnel, La Salle has the luxury of experimenting on different combinations.
“Advantage nila (La Salle) na iba-iba ang ii-scout namin sa team nila but then siguro may ways naman din si coach Tai kung paano niya gagawan ng paraan kung paano kami maga-adjust sa game namin on Wednesday,” she said. Handicapped of not, Valdez said that all that matters is that that they’ll play as a team and everything boils down on what team is hungrier for the win.“Kailangan naming maglaro ng maayos,” the skipper said. “Pero at the end of the day siyempre bilog ang bola kaya hindi rin natin masasabi kung anong mangyayari.”