The Ateneo Lady Eagles are one win away from booking a ticket straight to the finals and a thrice-to-beat advantage, after dodging the still winless UE Lady Warriors, 25-22 , 25-17 , 26-24, at the San Juan Arena.
The Lady Eagles were seemingly going through the motions in the first two sets. This allowed UE to get close despite struggling all season to put together competent stretches of volleyball. Unfortunately, the Lady Warriors were never able to catch up to the defending champs, who were trying a different lineup with most of their middle blockers unable to play due to a malady of injuries.
The third set kicked off with the Lady Warriors stuffing two consecutive Alyssa Valdez attacks and rolling to a 6-0 lead with uncharacteristically scrappy floor defense and blocking. The Lady Warriors continued to roll as Ateneo team captain Valdez sent two straight back row attacks to the net and gave UE a 15-3 lead. However, the Lady Eagles showed their championship pedigree and slowly climbed back, eventually trimming what was once a 20-9 lead down to 23-20. A gorgeous spike from Shaya Adorador gave UE set point but the Lady Warriors cracked under pressure. Valdez refused to be stopped, peppering UE with powerful attacks that were enough to lead a game-ending 6-0 run.
Valdez finished with 14 points while Ella De Jesus and Amy Ahomiro each pitched in 10 points for the Lady Eagles.
For the first time this season, someone other than Valdez top scored in an Ateneo game, with Adorador netting 17 markers in UE’s 44th straight loss. Veteran Leuseht Dawis contributed eight points.
Ateneo is still without a loss this season and will face their archrivals, the DLSU Lady Spikers at the MoA Arena on Wednesday while the Lady Warriors will have their final match against the UST Tigresses at the San Juan Arena on Feb 21.
Ateneo – Valdez 14, Ahomiro 10, De Jesus 10, Morado 6, Morente 5, Madayag 3, Maraguinot 2, Lazaro (L)
UE – Adorador 17, Dawis 8, Baliton 4, Dacaymat 4, Bendong 3, Juanillo 2, Alcayde 1, Nebria 1, Abil 0, Manansala 0, Arado (L)