Facing a foe fresh from the biggest upset of the season, the Ateneo De Manila University Lady Eagles exerted their fine form over the hungry National University Lady Bulldogs, 23-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-17, at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Lady Bulldogs opened the back-and-forth affair with a frantic finish to the first set. Leading by a slim margin, 23-22, NU got a reprieve thanks to a left pin kill from rookie middle blocker Gel Luceño. Kat Tolentino retaliated for Ateneo, but NU’s Audrey Paran provided the set-clinching kill.
Ateneo were then all over the second set, going on a 7-1 run that led to a 16-7 gap and equalized the match at a set apiece. The third frame seemed to be in Ateneo’s control, as Tolentino’s cross-court bomb pushed them ahead, 23-20. But the Lady Bulldogs responded with a block and a kill to come within one, 23-22. NU’s Ivy Lacsina, however, surrendered an attack error, which served as a prelude to Ateneo co-captain Maddie Madayag giving Ateneo the set with a picturesque slide attack.
Ateneo’s other captain Bea De Leon was instrumental in widening their fourth set lead to six, 20-14, with her signature quick kills. Ateneo then simply protected the lead en route to their sixth win in seven outings.
The Lady Eagles started the season with a disappointing loss to rivals La Salle, but have since gone undefeated. Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro foresees a much more challenging second round.
“First round was really tough for us. We learned a lot, but the second is going to be tougher. It will not be easy. We have to put more effort and sacrifices,” said Almadro.
“Hopefully, the positivity will manifest into the second round,” the first-year head coach added.
Madayag and De Leon topped the Lady Eagles with 17 and 13 points, respectively. The pair also combined for seven of Ateneo’s eight blocks.
Rookies Princess Robles and Ivy Lacsina again led the NU offense, providing 18 and 11 points, respectively. The Lady Bulldogs gave away 39 errors to Ateneo’s 26.
NU finished the first round with a 2-5 record.
ADMU (3) – Madayag 17, De Leon 13, Gaston 10, Tolentino 10, Samonte 7, Wong 2, Furukawa 0, Raagas 0, Gequillana (L)
NU (1) – Robles 18, Madayag 11, Paran 9, Luceno 8, Doria 6, Chavez 2, Landicho 1, Orillaneda 1, Nierva (L)
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