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Lady Bulldogs seek repeat over Tigresses for sweep, outright title slot

Princess Robles (right) and the Lady Bulldogs hope to punch their way past the Tigresses and into an outright Finals berth

Princess Robles (right) and the Lady Bulldogs hope to punch their way past the Tigresses and into an outright Finals berth. —UAAP MEDIA

The way things have been running so far in the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball tournament, these scenarios are all but certain: top-seed National University (NU) will advance outright to the finals, with La Salle lodged safely at second place.

One team, however, can upend all of that.

And University of Santo Tomas (UST) will do all it can to change a raging river’s course when it goes up against the unbeaten No. 1 seed on Thursday at Mall of Asia Arena.

“Who wouldn’t want to beat NU at this point?” said Ian Fernandez, the UST assistant to Kungfu Reyes who called the shots for the Tigresses in a straight sets win over University of the East on Tuesday.

For the past 13 playdates, however, the Lady Bulldogs have made winning against them a pipe dream for the rest of the field. And the Tigresses are aware of this.

“[W]e will pass through the eye of the needle for sure,” Fernandez said.

The prize of a victory aside from pride? UST gets to activate the Final Four and spares the lower-seeded semifinalists from a grueling stepladder series.

“We will try our best so we will have a Final Four [format]. We’ll play our best based on our experience and try to set the negative things aside and bring a positive output against NU,” Fernandez said.

If the Lady Bulldogs nail the outright berth, UST will battle the fourth-ranked team for the right to face La Salle, which will have twice-to-beat protection, for a spot in the finals.

As it is, defending champion Ateneo and Adamson are in a footrace for that No 4 spot. The Blue Eagles face eliminated University of the Philippines at 6:30 p.m. while the Lady Falcons face a tougher assignment at 12:30 p.m. when they battle the Lady Spikers.

Both Ateneo and Adamson sport 7-6 cards. If both have contrasting results, the winner books the No. 4 spot. If both come up with the same result, win or lose, they will battle in a no-tomorrow contest for the last semifinal berth.

“We will work very hard on this one. We want to enter Adamson in the Final Four,” said the Lady Falcons’ coach Lerma Giron. “I told the players ‘we are wounded warriors, we will fight to the end.’”

If UST wins, however, everything reverts to the Final Four, with NU facing the No. 4 team carrying the twice-to-beat advantage.

“That’s why other teams want us to win. We know if they (Lady Bulldogs) sweep, there will be stepladder, that’s more difficult,” added Fernandez.

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