The Ateneo Lady Eagles rolled to their eleventh consecutive win with a 25-23, 25-21, 25-23 sweep of the FEU Lady Tamaraws at the San Juan Arena.
Ateneo team captain- and favorite to repeat as MVP- Alyssa Valdez spearheaded Ateneo’s attack, delivering 23 points off 21 attacks and two aces. Most of her points came during pivotal moments of the match where momentum could have swung either way. The Lady Eagles also shrugged off their 28 unforced errors by driving home 47 spikes to FEU’s 31.
This was Ateneo’s first game without injured middle blocker Bea De Leon as Maddie Madayag started in her place. Madayag scored four points in her shaky debut but fellow middle blocker Amy Ahomiro had a spectacular outing, notching 13 points with five aces.
The Lady Eagles trailed for most of the first set, coughing up multiple service and attack errors to hand FEU an early four-point lead. The Lady Eagles’ porous play persisted late into the set with FEU up, 22-20. From there, Ateneo stalwart Ahomiro flipped the script on the Lady Tams, delivering loaded serves that resulted in an ace and two shaky receptions from FEU receivers. Ateneo took the lead and halted an FEU surge to take the set.
Ateneo fell behind once again to start the second frame. Faulty reception and attacking hampered the Lady Eagles’ attack, giving FEU an 8-3 advantage. Ateneo began their comeback early, as Valdez put up one beautiful attack after another, anchoring her team to their second set win.
The third set played out like the first two. The Lady Tams battled hard to keep the set close and wound up with a 22-20 lead. Ateneo fed the ball to the reigning MVP who from there, scored three of Ateneo’s next five points to seal the set.
FEU sophomore Bernadeth Pons led her team in scoring with 13 markers, all off attacks. Rookie Jerrili Malabanan continued her splendid play with nine points.
With the win, Ateneo is on pace to sweep the elimination round and book a ticket straight to the Finals and a thrice-to-beat advantage. FEU is now sitting in seventh place with a 4-7 record.
FEU will face NU next on Valentine’s Day at the San Juan Arena while Ateneo has UST on Feb. 11 at the MoA Arena.
Ateneo – Valdez 23, Ahomiro 13, De Jesus 10, Madayag 4, Morente 3, Maraguinot 0, Gequillana 0, Lazaro (L) 0
FEU – Pons 13, Malabanan 9, Palma 6, Basas 5, Casugod 4, Negrito 2, Atienza 0, Papa 0, Guino-o 0, Agno (L) 0