Ateneo-La Salle UAAP 79 volleyball showdown: Repeat or revenge?
MANILA, Philippines — No, there is no script involved here, but the 79th UAAP women's volleyball tournament is packed with so much drama it's like it was written by someone.
For one, the final play date of the elimination round will feature a storied and blockbuster rivalry.
That's right. The Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles will take on defending champions De La Salle University Lady Spikers.
With identical 11-2 records, the two teams eye a victory to finish the elimination round on top.
During their first round encounter, the Lady Eagles showed their trademark "heartstrong" attitude to shock the Lady Spikers in straight sets.
On Saturday, will it be a repeat for Ateneo? Or will La Salle pull all the strings to exact revenge?
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Lady Eagle Bea De Leon said earlier that "Stats don't mean a thing when it's (an) Ateneo-La Salle (match)."
But just to give you a clear picture on where the two teams stand in the competition, we look at their numbers.
De La Salle University Lady Spikers
Spike - 33.53 percent (2nd)
Block - 2.43 per set (1st)
Serve - 2.79 per set (2nd)
Dig - 14.26 per set (4th)
Set - 12.33 per set (1st)
Receive - 40.17 percent (1st)
Just looking at the stats alone, you might think the Lady Spikers are playing at a high level.
It's because they really are.
The Lady Spikers are on a six-game winning streak after their sorry loss to Ateneo to end the first round.
Former UAAP finals MVP Kim Dy said the team is peaking at the right time.
Open spikers Desiree Cheng and Tin Tiamzon starred for the Lady Spikers in the second round.
Any contribution outside of Dy and Majoy Baron is a big help to La Salle as this will make them deadlier.
Of course, you still have Kim Fajardo, who is a brilliant playmaker, and the ever reliable Dawn Macandili sweeping the floor.
Key to win: Excellent first ball
X Factor/s: Des Cheng and Tin Tiamzon
Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles
Spike - 38.72 percent (1st)
Block - 1.64 per set (4th)
Serve - 2.87 per set (1st)
Dig - 12.55 per set (7th)
Set - 11.66 per set (2nd)
Receive - 28.36 percent (3rd)
Nobody saw the Lady Eagles dominating this season since the departure of their "Queen Eagle" Alyssa Valdez.
But Ateneo proved the post-Valdez era is still a strong era with multiple heroes emerging.
Still, their floor defense is still scrappy, and they have the demigod Jia Morado to thank for the success.
Writers and analysts have run out of words to describe the talent that is Morado.
Just lift the ball up, it doesn't need to be a perfect receive but she will make her attackers look good.
Which is why the likes of de Leon, Michelle Morente and Kat Tolentino, are having a field day spiking the ball.
Speaking of Tolentino, she had her breakout game of the season with 18 points. Expect her to give her best again this time.
Key to win: Defense (Block and digs)
X Factor: Mich Morente
Obviously it's an even playing field for the two teams.
While we might not be able to predict who will win, we expect nothing but high-level volleyball from the two teams that will reach five sets.