April 30, 2016
Day of the Jackals
Today is the day.
Ateneo and La Salle will play one last time for the UAAP women’s volleyball title at the Big Dome.
Tickets are all sold out.
But expect a packed venue. I’m guessing it will be record-breaking numbers, more than the 20,000-plus thousands that came to see Game Two.
Alyssa Valdez will play her last game.
So did Mika Reyes.
Two popular voleyball personalities whose lives are intertwined by fate, perhaps destiny.
No analysis nor numbers can predict a Game Three. None. All I can say is this is not for the faint-hearted. So I will shut my mouth and just say may the best team wins. May it be La Salle. Or Ateneo. You both deserve the title.
You gave us fans more than what we want. It can’t get any better than this: Ateneo and La Salle battling for all the marbles in a deciding game.
So good luck.
And may all the players suiting up one last time for their respective schools end up with a great career outside college.
Yes you Alyssa Valdez.
And you too Mika Reyes.
I will end this blog with this one story by my Philippine STAR sports editor and mentor, Lito Tacujan titled “Killing climax.”
One last dance. One last cry. Revenge. Redemption. Renewal of faith.
A fitting end to a tremendous season where fortunes of the crowded line of pretenders twisted and turned until there was only the bitter rivals standing to contend for the precious crown.
It can’t get better than this.
Ateneo and La Salle clash for the UAAP women’s volleyball plum at 3 p.m. at the SMART Araneta Coliseum in a match that has all the ingredients of an expected thriller.
Consider: The two rivals are to put a closure to a gut-wrenching five-year run where they split two championships each, leading the decorated skipper of the Lady Eagles to brand this do-or-die a virtual fifth setter where they eyeball-to-eyeball each other to the last point.
No quarters asked or given. They are equal to the last woman. And their confrontations in this Season 78 of the UAAP have been laced with drama and suspense, building up to mortal showdown before another huge crowd clad in green and blue.
The Lady Spikers shocked the Lady Eagles in three sets, 25-22, 25-14, 25-18, in the first round, but the Ateneo belles, led by three-time MVP Alyssa Valdez, evened up with a crisp five-setter in the second round, 21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 15-5.
And as if written in the stars, La Salle endured a Final Four duel with FEU but instead of hobbling to the edge of a burnout, the Lady Spikers came out in full steam and swept the Lady Eagles in Game One of the title series, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21.
Then Ateneo came back from the dead and took game two from two sets down, 18-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11.
That set the stage for this mother of all battles today for the women’s crown.
And to further hype up the match, the megastars of the two teams – Valdez, teammates Amy Ahomiro and Mary Mae Tajima and La Salle’s Mika Reyes, Ara Galang, Cyd Thealee Demecillo and Carol Ann Cerveza – are to play their farewell game.
That makes this one last contest doubly significant,.Which team would be blessed with a niche in history while the others wallow in misfortunes in the other side?
But no matter. They will leave this league all winners for what the rivalry of these young women has done to further the cause of the sport and for the white-knuckle passion, heart and will they have dished out to reach this ‘killing climax’.
Follow me on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
Photos courtesy of Volleyball.PH.