La Salle vows to get back at UST
With the Final Four around the corner, teams—especially those in the middle of the pack—scramble with more urgency for Ws that would allow them in.
But when La Salle and University of Santo Tomas (UST) clash for solo second place, there is more at stake than a chance to stay in step with an unbeaten, runaway leader.
For the Lady Spikers, there’s also a score to settle.
La Salle assistant coach Benson Bocboc promises a vengeful performance from his team when they meet the Tigresses on Thursday in the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball at Mall of Asia Arena.
“Definitely we will get back at them (UST),” said Bocboc. “We all know that what happened against UST was just breaks [of the game], hopefully we come on top [this time].”
If there’s one thing the Tigresses have mastered this season, however, it’s capitalizing on every break a match presents them.
UST has won all three five-setters it played in the season, including a 26-24, 22-25, 25-27, 25-23, 15-12 triumph that left La Salle sore three weeks ago.
Amid a threat of payback, UST coach Kungfu Reyes is keeping an even keel.
“No drama,” he said, having calmed down after bemoaning what he referred to as questionable calls in a Tuesday loss to defending champion Ateneo. “The important thing is we always bounce back.”
To do that, Reyes put the bad calls—and final exams week in UST that has preoccupied his standouts—in his rearview mirror and stuck his gaze at the positives that came out of that defeat, UST’s third in 10 games.
“Even though we played badly, and we committed a lot of errors, we still lost those sets by five points,” said Reyes. “We just need a few tweaks. We trust in our players that they will come back because we know our weaknesses and strengths.”
“We have many things to consider as to why we were doing well and then had a sudden dip in our performance,” added Reyes.
La Salle, locked in a tie with UST at 7-3 (win-loss), will turn to its tried and tested system, perfected by champion coach Ramil de Jesus, as it looks to stretch its winning run to three in the match that starts at 12:30 p.m.
Later in the day, rampaging leader National University (NU), already in the Final Four and expected to remain unchallenged for the top spot, will use the remaining four games in its schedule to further sharpen a system that has so far logged 10 straight victories.
“We need to polish our executions in our next few games,” said Lady Bulldogs coach Karl Dimaculangan, whose unbeaten charges battle the Adamson Lady Falcons at 4 p.m. “We want to see what more we can do to improve our game.”
The stakes are higher for Adamson, which is currently at fourth place, within reach of semifinal chasers outside the top four.
“Going to the Final Four is like passing through the eye of the needle,” said Adamson coach Lerma Giron. “It’s very challenging. But we’re ready as a team, coaching staff, players, we’re ready, in God’s grace, to face the challenges.”
The Lady Bulldogs will have extra motivation against the Lady Falcons. If the standings hold, NU will battle Adamson in the semifinals. And apart from holding a twice-to-beat edge, NU would want to have the psychological advantage of being a puzzle that Adamson has yet to solve.
Ateneo and University of the Philippines (UP), both on the bottom half of the standings, go for important wins against eliminated rivals in a bid to make it to the Final Four.
UP begins the quadruple-bill by squaring off with Far Eastern University at 10 a.m., while Ateneo challenges winless University of the East at 6:30 p.m.