After almost two months of competition that began back in September, the 2023 Shakey’s Super League Preseason Championship is about to crown its champion.
And from 16 teams from the UAAP and NCAA, it’s down to just two: defending champion NU Lady Bulldogs and the UST Golden Tigresses.
NU and UST are set to begin their best-of-three title showdown in Game 1 tomorrow, November 10, 5:00 p.m. at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila. Game 2 of the Finals is set the following day on Saturday, November 11, also at 5:00 p.m. and at the same venue, with a winner-take-all Game 3, if necessary, set to take place on Sunday, November 12, also with the same schedule and venue. The only guarantee is that the champion will be crowned this weekend, and it will either be a repeat for the Lady Bulldogs or a first Shakey’s Super League crown for the Golden Tigresses.
The two teams took different paths to get to the championship round, with NU dominating every opponent without dropping a single set on their march to the Finals, as the Lady Bulldogs set their sights on a repeat of last year’s title run. The defending champions were tested by the Adamson Lady Falcons in the second set of their semifinal match last Sunday, but still prevailed in straight sets, 25-13, 26-24, 25-20.
Erin Pangilinan led the Lady Bulldogs with 11 points, while Alyssa Solomon, who was named as the MVP of the Match, added 10 points, with Bella Belen and Vange Alinsug chipping in with 9 and 8 points, respectively. Before that, the Lady Bulldogs defeated the UE Lady Warriors in straight sets in the quarterfinals, and swept all their preliminary round matches in Pool A and in Pool E in the second round of action.
By contrast, UST had a tougher road to the Finals, as they had to play in consecutive days in the quarterfinals and semifinals to reach the championship round. The Golden Tigresses nearly squandered their twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals against the CSB Lady Blazers, losing in Game 1, 22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 11-15. But they recovered last Saturday, dispatching the back-to-back NCAA champions in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 19-25, 32-30, to arrange a semifinals clash agains the FEU Lady Tamaraws.
And less than 24 hours later, they returned to action and defeated FEU in four sets, 25-21, 25-20, 19-25, 25-20, to barge into the Finals and set up an exciting series with the defending champion Lady Bulldogs. Angeline Poyos led the Golden Tigresses against the Lady Tamaraws, finishing with 21 points to earn MVP of the Match honors, while Jonna Perdido added 15 points and Regina Jurado chipped in with 14 points.
Before reaching the quarterfinals, UST swept their preliminary round matches in Pool C, before dropping just one match in the second round in Pool E to finish with a 5-1 record. That loss was against NU, 19-25, 20-25, 16-25, which happened last October 14. Can the Golden Tigresses show how much they have improved since then and defy the odds? Or will the Lady Bulldogs continue their domination on their way to a second straight title?
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