4 p.m. – UST vs Ateneo
The battle for the first conference crown of the ninth Shakey’s V-League Presented by SMART comes down to one final game between two of the league’s fancied teams with odds just about even, ensuring a nail-biter of a sudden death at The Arena in San Juan Sunday.
For Ateneo, it’s the chance to re-stake its claim as the best in the league after sweeping Adamson for the crown last year. For UST, it’s the opportunity to mark its comeback from a two-year layoff with another victory after nailing its sixth crown in the second conference of the 2010 season.
Both sides will be coming into the 4 p.m. match well rested from a four-day respite and motivated with no less than a championship and prestige at stake in the country’s premier volley league sponsored by Shakey’s Pizza.
Mary Jean Balse is expected to play to her full potential after being slowed down by a knee injury, making the already fearsome UST’s frontline more formidable with the former league MVP to provide not just offense but poise during crunchtime.
Maika Ortiz, who shone in UST’s victory in the opener of the best-of-three series of the event backed by Mikasa and Accel, is also raring to go and deliver the goods for the Odjie Mamon-mentored UST along with power-hitter Judy Caballejo, Maruja Banaticla, Thai reinforcement Utaiwan Kaensing, setter Rhea Dimaculangan, liberos Jan Dusaran and Katrina Carangan and Ingrid Reyes, Pamela Lastimosa and Carmela Tunay.
But the Lady Eagles hope to ride the momentum of its equally tough win in Tuesday’s Game Two that set up this winner-take-all match with coach Roger Gorayeb confident of drawing the best from his crack roster composed of Alyssa Valdez, Fille Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio, Gretchen Ho, resident Thai import Kesinee Phee Nok, setter Jem Ferrer, Suzanne Roces, Ella de Jesus and liberos Den-den Lazaro and Beatriz Tan.
UST and Ateneo split the first two games in four-set fashions with the Tigresses surprising the Lady Eagles and stopping the defending champions’ 10-game streak last Sunday. But Ateneo struck back hard in the next, pulling off an equally tough victory to force the rubber match.
Both teams are expected to go for a strong start and establish control and momentum with every possession, serve, reception and attack so crucial in a no-tomorrow contest for ultimate women’s volley glory.
The match can be viewed live via streaming on www.v-league.ph with AKTV 13 airing the game tomorrow (Monday) starting at 7 p.m., according to the organizing Sports Vision.