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Mar 10, 2015
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And once again, we have the volleybelles of Ateneo and De La Salle facing off in UAAP Women's Volleyball's biggest stage!

The two teams have practically claimed the top spot of the league for themselves. In case you didn't know, this will be the fourth-straight time that the Lady Spikers are battling the Lady Eagles in the championship round with the former having a 2-1 edge. However, the girls from Katipunan won last year, and they could be very well on their way to a back-to-back (you'll know why as you read on).

Blocks and spikes, winning tradition, offense vs. defense, crowd battle, and whatnot: Pinoy volleyball fans, here are seven storylines to watch out for at the UAAP Season 77 Women's Volleyball Finals!

Note: Game 1 is tomorrow (March 11) afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Game time is 3 p.m.


ATENEO AS THE FAVORITES

Ateneo is favored to win the series. Why? The Lady Eagles hold a thrice-to-beat advantage after a 14-game elimination round sweep (the league uses a stepladder format which grants a team that sweeps the eliminations a thrice-to-beat advantage in the championship round).

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The Katipunan-based team only has to win twice and has reigning MVP Alyssa Valdez, who has an impressive average of 22.28 points per game, to lead them. Meanwhile, De La Salle had to work its way up and faced third-seeded National University twice. The Lady Spikers lost the first game. Luckily, they had a twice-to-beat advantage and won the next meeting to arrange a rematch of last year's epic finals.


OFFENSE VS. DEFENSE

The finals will be another fantastic display of offense vs. defense. With 5'11" Mika Reyes and her almost one block per set average, De La Salle is ranked number one in blocks in the league. On the other hand, the Lady Eagles is a well-oiled scoring machine, ranking as the top spiking team (although the Lady Spikers aren't that far behind, being number two).

uaap volleyballImage via Spin.ph

Also, as we've said, Ateneo has offensive phenom named Valdez, who seems to play her best when facing the girls of DLSU. Ateneo's top offensive weapon is actually averaging a whopping 27.5 points a game against De La Salle this season! Let's see if the green side's vaunted D holds up.


BATTLE OF THE COACHES, ROUND FOUR

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It's Coach Tai Bundit of ADMU versus Coach Ramil de Jesus of DLSU once again!

Ateneo's Thai mentor knows only a few English words, and some of them are: happy, unity, heartstrong. On the other hand, the 18-year La Salle coach knows a lot of English and Filipino words, including a few curses (which coach doesn't, right?). That being said, we're pretty sure they'll be able to put their points across, regardless of what language they're speaking. It's now up to the players to translate all that saliva into Ws.

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WINNING TRADITION OR A NEW RUN?

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La Salle has eight titles, including two three-peat runs (2004-2006, 2011-2013), all under de Jesus. Ateneo has one, but it may be the start of a winning run.


THE THIS-IS-FOR-ARA-GALANG BATTLE CRY

De La Salle will be down one star, no thanks to the exit of their top hitter, Ara Galang. The De La Salle skipper, who averages 17 points per game, will be out for the entire series after suffering tears on her median meniscus, ACL, and MCL, and a big bone bruise due to a bad fall during their do-or-die game against NU last March 7. Couldn’t process or even pronounce her injury? You don't need to, all you have to know is that it's so gruesome it makes the sprain you suffered during your weekend pick-up b-ball game look like an insect bite. Pagaling ka, girl!

uaap volleyballImage via Spin.ph

In any case, we're sure as hell the Lady Archers will use Galang's injury as added motivation to win it all, even if they're the underdogs. Expect more fire with every dig, spike, and block, from the green squad. Ateneo better watch out.


WAR OF THE SETTERS

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Ateneo has sophomore Julia Morado, while La Salle has fourth year veteran Kim Fajardo. These two are big reasons why their respective teams are in the top two in terms of setting this season (Ateneo is number one). Last year, Fajardo won over Morado in the Best Setter race by just a point. And this year the Best Setter award goes to… Let’s wait for the announcement of individual awards tomorrow.


THE LOUD AND PROUD SIXTH MAN

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One thing’s for sure once Game 1 gets underway: The Big Dome will be dominated by three colors, Blue, White, and Green. But we expect the cheers and jeers to spill out and extend to social media, where tweets with hashtags like #UAAPVBallFinals2015, #AteneoVsLaSalle, and #AnimoVsArneow, will be aplenty. It's Ateneo vs. La Salle, after all.

Now let's see which crowd will play the sixth man role better.

Image via Spin.ph
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