AUTOMATIC finalist National University (NU) is leaving no stone unturned while waiting on top, monitoring closely as teams started to rumble in the stepladder playoffs of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Already seeded in the championship set-to by sweeping the two-round eliminations, the Lady Bulldogs are maximizing their advantage to recover and at the same time, resharpen their claws against whoever survives the tough stepladder semifinals.
NU, as early as last Thursday, claimed its spot on top of the ladder and will not play until this Saturday in the best-of-three finals against a still undetermined opponent.
Three teams are in contention for that right to challenge NU, starting with No. 3 Santo Tomas and fourth-seeded Ateneo that were to play last night in a knockout game to climb the ladder.
Up next for the winner is No. 2 La Salle, which sports an inside track to a finals bid of its own with a twice-to-beat advantage.
For NU, the work never stops while on standby.
“At this point, we’re expecting more intensity and pressure of course. Kaya lagi ko lang nire-remind sa team na kahit tapos na ang eliminations at nasa finals na kami, hindi pa rin tapos ang trabaho namin,” said Mr. Dimaculangan, a member of the Santo Tomas team that also swept a season in 2009.
The ongoing UAAP stepladder is the first since 2015 when the Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo swept its way to the championship. Contrastingly, the Blue Eagles this time were the last team to make it by salvaging the fourth spot with a win against Adamson in a knockout match. — John Bryan Ulanday