UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help System Dalta seeks to finish a Cinderella story as it plays defending champion Arellano University today in the NCAA women's volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Unlike in the previous weeks where they needed to hurdle several do-or-die games to go deep in the season, the Lady Altas are no longer the underdogs this time, as the Las Piñas-based squad try to close out the series and end the Lady Chiefs' reign in Game 2 at 4 p.m.
A victory by Perpetual Help's women's team coupled by title sweep by its men's and juniors squads will complete the league's first golden treble in 17 years.
The Altas gun for their second straight championship against College of Saint Benilde at 2 p.m., while the Junior Altas eye a five-peat in their 11 a.m. duel with Letran.
Perpetual Help's overachieving lady spikers though are expected to have a rough sailing against an Arellano team expected to bounce back from a stinging 21-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-20 defeat last week and send the series into a decider on Tuesday.
Coach Obet Javier's Lady Chiefs are expected to rely on their championship experience having won three titles in the last four seasons.
“Hindi naman pwede na isa o dalawang tao lang ang gagalaw. Nakita naman natin kung gaano ka-willing manalo ‘yung Perpetual Help. Ganoon talaga mangyayari sa amin kung hindi lahat magpo-produce, makikita natin ang resulta kabaligtaran,” said Javier.
“Sa tingin ko makakatulong naman siya (one week break) pero siyempre ’yung advantage nasa Perps eh. So kung hindi magtitino ang practice namin, kung ’di magiging matino ’yunng igagalaw ng player, mahihirapan kami sa Friday,” he added.
For coach Macky Cariño, the architect of the Lady Blazers' improbable championship run three years ago, the adjustments are expected to be minor for the Lady Altas, who before advancing to the Finals have won four straight elimination games, including two in the Final Four.
“Siyempre, very tough talaga ’yung Arellano so kailangan talaga namin maging matibay," said Cariño, who is seeking to steer Perpetual Help to its fourth crown overall and the first since the Honey Royse Tubino-led squad won in 2014.
"We have to beprepared. Kung ano ang ginawa namin noong past games, mas dodoblehin namin kasi ganoon naman dapat. Hindi ka lang dapat steady. Yung ginawa mo ngayon (Game 1), dapat dagdagan mo siya. Mas maging productive ka," he added.
The Altas, for their part, turned back the Blazers, 23-25, 25-19, 23-25, 25-23, 15-12, in the men's opener, while the Junior Altas waylaid the Squires, 25-15, 25-19, 25-19, to move on the cusp of a title sweep in their respective divisions.
“We’re close to achieving something special and we’re going for it,” said Sammy Acaylar, Perpetual Help’s sports director and men’s volleyball coach.