La Salle, UST spikers clash for ‘bonus’

COACH Ramil de Jesus has a simple message for La Salle if it wants to extend its dynastic reign in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.

“Hindi matutupad yung four-peat niyo kung ayaw niyo manalo,” said De Jesus after the Lady Spikers failed to end the eliminations with a win that they badly needed.

The 22-25, 25-13, 25-15, 25-27, 8-15 loss to Far Eastern University last Sunday might still sting, but La Salle hopes to regroup against University of Santo Tomas in a playoff for the remaining twice-to-beat slot at 3:30 p.m. today at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

The winner will move closer to a spot in the best-of-three series in their Final Four showdown on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena, with De Jesus urging his players to forget that Lady Tamaraws’ game and focus on the Tigresses.  

“Actually, hindi ko naman sila masyadong pinagalitan. Ni-remind ko na lang. Wala ng galit kasi baka dalhin pa nila ‘yung pagkatalo sa Wednesday. Kailangan na lang matuto tayo sa pagkakamali ngayon,” said De Jesus.

“Ang nakikita ko kasi sa team ngayon, pag nanalo, parang nalulula. Kailangan mo gisingin ulet. Parang hindi sanay na nanalo. Parang relax na relax kami kasi nanalo kami.”

UST has won its last four matches, including last Saturday’s 27-25, 25-17, 20-25, 25-16 victory over National University that allowed the Tigresses secure to a playoff for a Final Four twice-to-beat advantage opposite the Lady Spikers.

Enjoying its finest elimination round campaign in eight years, UST hopes that team play will be the key if it wants to sustain its form against La Salle.

The Lady Spikers need to find ways to contain the Tigresses’ dynamic duo of Sisi Rondina and Eya Laure, two of the league’s best scorers in the elims, as well as not let the others involved that will definitely boost the España-based squad’s offense.

A healthy Desiree Cheng, who played limited minutes the last time out, is what La Salle needs to stay within step of UST, to somehow lessen the burden of rookie Jolina dela Cruz, May Luna and Tin Tiamzon.

The other semifinal pits twice-to-beat Ateneo and No. 4 FEU on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.