Led by local volleyball hero Alyssa Valdez’ season-high performance, the Ateneo Lady Eagles cleaned up their act late to pick up another win against rivals De La Salle Lady Spikers, 25-22, 25-27, 16-25, 25-14, 15-9.
Despite giving up a season-high 46 errors (41 in the first three sets), Ateneo’s league-leading offense generated 49 spikes versus La Salle’s 32. Valdez produced 20 of those spikes off 71 attempts, finishing with 26 points, three blocks and three aces. La Salle’s Ara Galang, who was pacing the league for Best Scorer before the game, managed only 11 points. Valdez now leads the league in points scored.
La Salle sophomore Desiree Cheng came out of the gates firing, notching two spikes, a block and an ace to give DLSU an early 9-5 lead. La Salle’s impenetrable blocking and uncharacteristic errors from Ateneo allowed La Salle to build a steady five-point lead up to 20-15. Ateneo team captain Valdez strung together a run of blocks and spikes, giving ADMU a 23-22 lead. Ateneo’s Julia Morado dropped an ace on La Salle followed by a Bea De Leon quick hit to seal the set for ADMU.
Valdez and sophomore Michelle Morente teamed up to give Ateneo an early 8-5 lead in the second set. Ateneo’s strong blocking kept La Salle at bay, as Morado and De Leon helped forge a seemingly impenetrable three-point lead up to 16-13. La Salle from there rattled off four straight points to give themselves the lead. The Lady Spikers momentarily pulled away, forging a 21-18 lead but the Lady Eagles quickly responded and knotted the game at a deuce which ended in an Ateneo error followed by a Galang ace.
Ateneo piled on nine early errors, buoying La Salle to a 13-9 lead. La Salle then capitalized on Ateneo’s sloppy back row defense to push their lead to 19-13. A cornucopia of Ateneo errors opened the door for La Salle to take their second set handily. The Lady Eagles ended the set with 15 total errors.
It seemed that errors would again thwart Ateneo’s comeback as they tallied four to begin the fourth set but the Lady Eagles dug themselves out with their league-best spiking to take an 8-7 lead into the technical timeout. Displaying her all-around offensive brilliance, Valdez bolstered her team’s lead from the service line, unfurling multiple aces and back row attacks to boost Ateneo’s lead to 18-10. Ateneo rode their league-leading offense to force a deciding fifth set handily.
Both teams jostled the lead begin the final set but consecutive errors from La Salle’s Cyd Demecillo followed by an Amy Ahomiro quick gave Ateneo a 13-8 lead. La Salle botched several digs in the following possessions, sealing the win for the Lady Eagles.
Ateneo is now the only unbeaten team in UAAP Women’s Volleyball at 7-0, marking their first elimination round win against La Salle since Season 70 when DLSU was forced to forfeit their game.
Ateneo – Valdez 26, Ahomiro 13, De Jesus 9, De Leon 9, Morado 5 Morente 5, Maraguonot 3, Lazaro (L) 0
DLSU – Galang 11, Demecillo 9, Reyes 8, Fajardo 7, Cheng 6, Soyud 4, Dy 3, Baron 3, Cruz Ci. (L) 0, Macandili (L) 0.