3 points from the final matches of UAAP volleyball elims
MANILA, Philippines – The elimination round is done. It was all about jostling for position. Here are three things to take as we head into the Final Four:
When challenged, the DLSU Lady Spikers turn on the jets
No one has really come close to the two-time defending champions. They have had their brushes with defeat — maybe not for an entire match but for a set or two here and there — but they have for the most part shaken off these challenges and won. Their eight-game winning streak is the longest of the season.
Ateneo simply isn’t on their level anymore. They played well in the first set but those errors that came at the wrong time hurt. They weren’t the same after that first set challenge.
What I have liked about the Lady Spikers is their discipline and composure. Players like Kim Dy or even Tin Tiamzon don’t just try to break down the wall; they go for placement and a variety of shots. They read the game well. They also have some of the best players at their respective positions. They are on a different level which is why they will win it all again.
FEU looks like they are ready to take the next step
This is an even better team than when they had Remy Palma. Celine Domingo is a massive pick up (from UE) while Czarina Carandang will eventually get more playing time. Easily, they go 12-deep. And to think that Jerrili Malabanan doesn’t get much playing time in this loaded squad.
The Lady Tamaraws dusted off that challenge from this fragile NU team. And they didn’t simply wait for NU to self-destruct, they hammered the Lady Bulldogs.
The question is, can they hurdle Ateneo in the Final Four? It is nice for them to go on a four-game winning streak. That certainly bolsters their confidence, more so that the Lady Eagles are on a two-match slide. They have to understand that Ateneo plays them well and the Final Four is their territory.
What I figure to be in their advantage is their hunger. It clearly shows.
Has that window of opportunity closed for NU and Ateneo?
When they began the program for NU seven years ago, they envisioned catching up to La Salle or even Ateneo in terms of the standings if not championships. They have won. Just not in the tournament that matters. An ambitious build up has not really netted much.
I recall seven years ago when in that squad’s first match (including the since graduated vets), they displayed a lot of swagger. It was misplaced. They lost that game. And in the intervening years, it has been replaced with confusion and pain.
They started out the season 6-1, but that record didn’t not tell the whole story. There were narrow wins. Ones they were able to pull off but not without great difficulty or opponents self-destructing. Since then they went 1-6. To say they are spiraling out of control is a massive understatement.
Theoretically, they can still book a finals seat. Except they are up against a La Salle team that’s on a roll.
As for Ateneo, they used to thrive on so much adversity. They still do. But they dug themselves into this hole. What looked to be a sure top two seat with its twice-to-beat advantage when they lost to UP. And now they have lost two straight while FEU is just happy to have them in their gunsights.
Okay, let’s be clear. No one expected them to be in the Final Four. So they have overachieved and that is good. But I don’t think they got here just for the sake of making the semis. They want to try and get a win or two, even dream of a championship. But the pair of three-set losses to DLSU has to put doubt into that.
However, they match up well against FEU so the Lady Tams cannot take them lightly.
The saying goes, “bilog ang bola.” Both NU and Ateneo will make a go at it. But they have to raise the level of their respective games because if they continue to show that kind of play, it could be all over in one game. And who knows what’s next for them?