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Blue Eagles face Final 4-bound Lady Spikers, needing a big win

ATENEO Blue Eagles need a win to reinforce its playoff bid. — THE UAAP

By John Bryan Ulanday

REIGNING champion Ateneo rekindles its rivalry with Final Four-bound La Salle, needing a big win to reinforce its own playoff bid in the penultimate playdate of the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday.

Clinging at fourth spot with a 7-5 card, the Blue Eagles vie for an inside track to the Final Four at 4 p.m. versus the Lady Spikers, who clinched their playoff ticket last week.

Adamson (6-6) and University of the Philippines (UP) (5-7), for their parts, aim to stay in the race in a crucial duel at 6:30 p.m. while Santo Tomas (8-4) bids to formalize its playoff entry at 10 a.m. against winless University of the East (UE) (0-12).

In the middle of those pivotal duels is the 12:30 p.m. outing of National University (NU) (12-0) against also-ran Far Eastern University (FEU) (1-11) with a win for the Lady Bulldogs moving them on the verge of securing an outright finals berth.

The spotlight, however, is on the Blue Eagles that have sharpened their claws with three straight victories to catch up in the airtight Final Four race.

“We’re slowly getting there, but it’s not yet done. We still have two more games and then doon namin made-determine if we’re on the right track,” said coach Oliver Almadro after clipping Adamson in a five-set thriller to own the fourth spot so far.

Against La Salle though, Ateneo braces for an even tougher challenge especially after a 25-22, 23-25, 18-25, 20-25 loss in the first round.

“Every UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) season, ang barometer is La Salle. They have a good program. They have a complete lineup, a deep bench and they are very well-coached. Gusto lang namin tignan kung ano kaya namin gawin and if we have the opportunity, we’ll take it,” he added.

Under the watch of coach Ramil de Jesus, La Salle is also riding on a four-game winning streak after trouncing UE over the weekend to fortify place at No. 2 and cruise to its 12th straight Final Four appearance.

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