REIGNING champion National University begins its quest for a back-to-back title bid against Ateneo de Manila University to open the highly-anticipated women’s volleyball tournament of the UAAP Season 85 on Feb. 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Bulldogs and the Blue Eagles cross paths at 2 p.m. before the clash of their men’s counterparts at 4 p.m. In the morning card, University of the East and Adamson University collide in the men’s and women’s division at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., respectively.
Fellow contenders De La Salle University and University of Santo Tomas follow suit the next day at 2 p.m., still at the same venue before the duel of men’s teams at 4 p.m.
The men’s and women’s teams of Far Eastern University and University of the Philippines also lock horns at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m., respectively.
But the spotlight will be on National University, which wiped the floor with all its counterparts in Season 84 to cap a perfect 16-0 championship run for its first volleyball crown in 65 years.
The Lady Bulldogs then swept runner-up De La Salle in the finale of the stepladder Final Four that also featured University Santo Tomas and De La Salle University.
In a repeat bid, the Lady Bulldogs will have an intact starting core made up of by Rookie-Most Valuable Player Mhicaela Belen, Alyssa Solomon (Best Opposite Spiker), Jen Nierva (Best Libero) Lams Lamina (Best Setter), Sheena Toring (Second Best Middle Blocker) and Princess Robles (Finals MVP).
The Lady Bulldogs geared up for UAAP title defense by also sweeping the inaugural Shakey’s Super League Collegiate Pre-Season Championship last November with Ms. Solomon this time as the MVP.
Meanwhile, other notable matches this season will be on March 5 featuring the iconic Ateneo-De La Salle rivalry at the MOA Arena and the finals rematch between Lady Bulldogs and Lady Spikers on March 18 at the Filoil EcoOil Centre. — John Bryan Ulanday