Wednesday , May 22 2024

Streaking National U gets first crack at playoff protection

Alyssa Solomon (left) had 25 points off 21 attacks in the first round win over the Lady Tams. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Alyssa Solomon (left) had 25 points off 21 attacks in the first round win over the Lady Tams. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

A straight sets loser in its opening day match, bamboozled by the defending champions late in the first round.

And yet, it is National University (NU) which has the chance to grab the first twice-to-beat slot in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament, with the two squads that dealt the Lady Bulldogs sound beatings before left in a virtual elimination match later in the week.

The Lady Bulldogs have not tasted defeat ever since bowing to La Salle to close out the first round, and a win in their 4 p.m. clash with Far Eastern University at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum will afford them the luxury of having the psychological edge against the Lady Tamaraws, who would need to beat them twice in the semifinals.

And Bella Belen, the Lady Bulldogs’ star spiker and team leader, is not about to allow her team to take its foot off the gas pedal even with the odds favoring them.

“We need to play our hardest and have that will to win now that we are near the end (of the elimination round),” Belen said in Filipino as National seeks a repeat of a 25-17, 13-25, 25-17, 25-20 victory over the Lady Tams in the first round.

“We need to think that this team can beat us,” Belen went on. “We need to play with a sense of urgency and eagerness to win.”

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The match is equally important for the Lady Tams even if their place in the Final Four stays whatever the result. Beating NU would give them the confidence that the Lady Bulldogs are not invincible.

National has an 11-2 record like La Salle and University of Santo Tomas (UST), which will square off on Saturday for the second twice-to-beat privilege.

A loss by the Bulldogs would make the Saturday game the one for the first Final Four bonus and drag National into a KO match for No. 2 against the loser of the La Salle-Santo Tomas game.

The Golden Tigresses swept the Lady Bulldogs in the inaugurals, had an eight-game winning streak to open the season, before five-set losses to National and Far Eastern in return bouts put them on this boat.

But Angge Poyos seems to have recovered from a severe bout with dehydration, giving coach KungFu Reyes the benefit of a complete lineup come Saturday.La Salle, meanwhile, has yet to announce the return of the prolific Angel Canino from injury, although the reigning Rookie-Most Valuable Player had warmed up with the Lady Spikers before their straight sets win over bitter rival Ateneo on Sunday.

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“If not against UST, maybe in the semifinals,” assistant coach Noel Orcullo told reporters on Sunday, referring to when Canino will be back in harness. INQ

El deporte es una actividad física que involucra esfuerzo físico y destreza, realizada con el propósito de competir, entretenerse o mantener una buena salud. Puede abarcar una amplia variedad de disciplinas, desde deportes de equipo como el fútbol o el baloncesto hasta deportes individuales como la natación o el atletismo. El deporte es una parte importante de la cultura en muchas sociedades y ofrece beneficios tanto físicos como mentales a quienes lo practican regularmente.

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