La Salle enters key stretch in top two bid against Adamson

La Salle Lady Spikers star Angel Canino UAAP Season 86 volleyball

La Salle Lady Spikers star Angel Canino is sidelined with arm injury in the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament. –MARLO CUETO/

Three schools are obviously going to try to avoid finishing the elimination round of the UAAP Season 86 women’s volleyball tournament at this spot: No. 3.

For La Salle, it is that number of wins the Lady Spikers need to close out classification just to make sure that they stay away from that place, and that grind starts in a rather lukewarm match in Adamson on Wednesday before things really heat up.

With a 9-2 record and coming off a crushing loss to National University, La Salle needs to get back on track in a jiffy to give chase to the Lady Bulldogs and the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses, who are tied for the lead heading into the last two weeks of the elimination round.

National and Santo Tomas are at 10-2 and own wins against each other, the Lady Spikers, meanwhile, have also split their matches with the Bulldogs and would battle it out with the Tigresses one last time before the Final Four is played.

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La Salle lost in the first round to the Tigresses in five sets.

Assuming that La Salle beats the Soaring Lady Falcons in their 2 p.m. clash, the Lady Spikers would then collide with bitter rival Ateneo this weekend before that all-important match with the Tigresses for what could be for No. 2 and the second twice-to-beat privilege.

As things stand, none of these three schools would want to finish third, for it would mean beating No. 2 two straight times. A tall order, no matter which that team might be.

The Bulldogs’ final assignment would be against Far Eastern University, the fourth qualifier which still has a mathematical chance of finishing in the top two even with a 7-4 record going into its match with ousted University of the East at 4 p.m.

But before taking on the formidable Lady Tamaraws, National U will play Adamson and, like Santo Tomas and La Salle, cannot afford a slip-up in a match that means nothing to its foes.

“It was a big morale booster for the team,” Far Eastern coach Manolo Refugia said in Filipino, referring to a five-set classic over the Tigresses last Saturday. “We will prepare hard for our last three opponents.”

A big question mark remains to be the slated return of Angel Canino, the heart and soul of the Lady Spikers who reportedly suffered a deep cut in the upper side of her right arm that kept her out of La Salle’s last three games.

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The Lady Spikers have gone 2-1 in that span, with the victories against ousted teams going a combined nine sets, before that loss to the Bulldogs. INQ