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Tolentino, Ateneo Lady Eagles torch UP to open UAAP title-retention bid

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Tiebreaker Times Tolentino, Ateneo Lady Eagles torch UP to open UAAP title-retention bid ADMU News UAAP UP Volleyball  UP Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 82 Women's Volleyball UAAP Season 82 Tots Carlos Oliver Almadro Kat Tolentino Jules Samonte Jaja Maraguinot Godfrey Okumu Faith Nisperos Ateneo Women's Volleyball

Ateneo de Manila University set its title-retention bid in the UAAP Season 82 Women’s Volleyball Tournament in motion, sending out a strong statement to the rest of the league on Wednesday.

The Lady Eagles brewed the perfect blend of veteran smarts and youthful energy to dispose of University of the Philippines, 25-13, 25-17, 25-23, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

“We’re so grateful, and finally we had an opportunity to play again in the UAAP and [we’re] thankful also the Lord gave us this first win. Malaking bagay ‘to para sa amin to win the first game of the season, but we will not stop here. One game will not determine our character,” Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro said.

The defending champions barely felt the departure of Maddie Madayag, Bea De Leon, and Kim Gequillana. In their place, impressive outings from Kat Tolentino, Faith Nisperos, and Jules Samonte propelled Ateneo to a rousing start.

The Lady Eagles soared right out of the gates, creating double-digit separation in the first frame for an early buffer. Riding the crest of that surge, they never trailed in the match en route to a sweep.

Tolentino showcased her deadly form with 15 points built on 12 attacks and three blocks. Nisperos impressed in her collegiate debut with 10 markers, while Jules Samonte collected three blocks for 10 points as well.

Still, Ateneo had to overcome a late scare as the Fighting Maroons stayed true to their name.

Facing a tall deficit in the decisive third set, UP trimmed it point by point, closing in at 21-22. Eureka Eslapor coughed out a costly error from the service line, though, giving Tolentino the opening to buoy Ateneo to match point, 24-21.

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Marist Layug and a mishit from Nisperos then pumped life into UP’s comeback hopes. Unfortunately, a Rem Cailing service error dimmed any glimmer of hope.

“We’re just happy na nakapaglaro na kami ulit and we won the first game,” expressed Almadro.

Tots Carlos emerged as the lone Fighting Maroon in double digit territory with 11 points. Isa Molde managed nine markers in a losing cause.

Ateneo now marches into an early rival match when it collides with the DLSU Lady Spikers on Saturday, March 7. On the same day, UP tries to hop on the right track when it faces the UE Lady Warriors. Both matches will be held at the same venue.

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