Shaking off an uncharacteristic slow start in seemingly every set, the Ateneo Lady Eagles had to dig deep to vanquish an upset-hungry UP Lady Maroons, 25-18, 22-25, 25-20, 15-25, 15-11 at the San Juan Arena.
The Lady Maroons kept it close early in the first set, trimming an early 6-10 Ateneo lead down 12-13 after two straight Alyssa Valdez attacks went long forcing Coach Bundit to call a timeout.
Ateneo came out firing after the timeout, capping three consecutive attacks to get into the first technical timeout. Superb attacking from senior Ella De Jesus and rookie Bea De Leon buoyed Ateneo to win the first set.
UP team captain Nicole Tiamzon blazed through the early parts of the second chapter, scoring four of her team’s first eight points, pulling UP to an early 8-7 lead. A slew of Ateneo errors and a dominant stretch from their middle blockers, Angeli Araneta and Kathy Bersola, pushed the UP lead to 17-10. The Lady Maroons escaped a furious Ateneo at the tail end of the set as Tiamzon again did most of the heavy lifting and handed Ateneo its first set loss of the season.
UP picked off from where they left off to start the third set, as a seemingly dazed Ateneo side floundered to a 4-8 hole. Alyssa Valdez came alive midway through the set, sparking a Lady Eagle run that took them to a 20-15 lead. The Ateneo captain also quelled a boisterous UP side from making a late run, allowing her team to take their second set.
An avalanche of Ateneo miscues allowed UP to grab a 16-12 lead in the fourth canto. UP continued to pound on a lackadaisical Ateneo side, eventually building enough steam for their offense to carry them through a decisive set victory.
A ruckus Ateneo crowd breathed life into their struggling team in the last set, seemingly pulling the Lady Eagles out of a trance and back into their championship form to finally smite an upset-hungry UP side.
Though reigning MVP Alyssa Valdez misfired on a lot of her opportunities, she still led the match with 25 points off 59 spike attempts, three blocks and two aces. UP team captain, Nicole Tiamzon amassed a team-high 22 points off 52 spike attempts.
The Lady Maroons will try to bounce back against Adamson in their matchup on Wednesday while Ateneo has a back-to-back on deck this coming weekend first against UE then a finals rematch against DLSU on Sunday.
ADMU- Valdez 25, De Leon 12, Ahomiro 11, De Jesus 9, Gequillana 4, Morado 3, Maraguinot 2, Morente 1, Lazaro (L) 0.
UP- Tiamzon 22, Bersola 12, Araneta 11, Ilustre 9, Alinas 5, Ong 2, Lai 1, Mangulabnan 0, Magtalad 0, Sandoval 0, Estranero (L) 0.