Ateneo and La Salle have met in the Finals in the past four season, with the Lady Spikers winning the first two then the Lady Eagles taking the past two.
Season 78 will settle the score between the rivals. Both sides will have several seniors exhaust their playing eligibility after the Finals. This series will mark the end to an era that sparked the local volleyball renaissance.
La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus has led the Lady Spikers to eight UAAP titles since he first took over in 1999. No team has given him a better challenge than these Lady Eagles and for their upcoming Finals clash, De Jesus concedes that they are the heavy underdogs.
“Last time na nagharap kami, kami yung talo so lalabas na kami yung underdog. Sila yung number one, kami yung number two. Kapag sa Finals iba na rin ang laban. Nasa sa preparation na ng teams yan,” De Jesus said referring to their five-set second round clash.
Aside from losing their last meeting, De Jesus also considers La Salle’s recent hectic schedule as a cause for concern. Last week was Finals week in La Salle. Aside from staying up late to study, the Lady Spikers also played four matches in the span of 11 days. Game One on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum will be their fifth match in two weeks.
“Mahirap pumasok sa Finals ng galing sa do-or-die situation tapos yung kalaban galing sa isang linggo na pahinga. Mixed emotions kasi nakapasok ng Finals per kapos ang time para sa preparation,” De Jesus remarked.
When it comes to tactics, De Jesus says that this series may very well come down to desire. With stars like Ara Galang, Kim Fajardo, Mika Reyes, Alyssa Valdez, and Amy Ahomiro playing their last collegiate matches, De Jesus thinks that drawing motivation from their last chance to prove themselves will be key.
“Sa parehong team may last playing year na, may gustong patunayan. Kung sino na lang ang gusto manalo,” he closed.