Since they had met in the Finals from Seasons 74 to 79 of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball tournament, Ateneo and La Salle played the first of their rivalry matches at the end of the first round. The hype machine churned as each team built up to the most storied rivalry in local sports.
But, since the Lady Spikers did not meet the Lady Eagles for the UAAP Season 80 title with the latter placing third last season, the two squads faced off right on the opening weekend of Season 81.
The early meeting did not deter the excitement as 17,166 fans flocked the SM Mall of Asia Arena to see the new-look Lady Spikers take down the Lady Eagles in four sets.
“Well ‘yun nga, noong medyo papalapit na ‘yung season, sabi ko possible na mag-Ateneo-La Salle kasi regarding doon sa ranking tsaka sa placing. So ina-anticipate na nila ‘yan, expected na nila ‘yun. Kahit naman sa una mangyari, kahit sa huli, mag-aabot ka pa rin eh,” said De Jesus.
“Dito lang, kung sino mas naka-ready, ‘yun ang possible na manalo sa first game.”
De Jesus kept up his annual tradition of keeping La Salle’s preparations under wraps, making his first media address in their post-game presser against Ateneo.
This has always given the Lady Spikers an edge as teams are kept guessing as regards to his lineup until the last minute.
“Malaking advantage ‘yun. Wala silang idea doon sa team namin, kung sino ‘yung starter, kung ano ‘yung posisyon, and kung anong klaseng set play yung nangyayari sa team sa practice namin.”