Staring down a precarious one-set deficit, Faith Nisperos zeroed in and took over, lifting the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles past the College of St. Benilde Lady Blazers, 22-25, 25-16, 22-25, 26-24, 15-11, in the 2019 PVL Collegiate Conference battle for bronze at the FilOil Flying V Centre, Wednesday.
Nisperos erupted for 35 points built on 29 blistering attacks to go along with four service aces and a pair of kill blocks. She also laced with 17 excellent digs to post a monster double-double performance, helping Ateneo scale a dangerous deficit at the critical juncture of the affair.
St. Benilde controlled the tempo in the decisive fourth frame, leading by as much as five, 21-16 following an off-the-block spike from Gayle Pascual. In an attempt to snatch momentum, Nisperos hammered down consecutive hits that incited a 6-1 stampede to lock the scores at 22.
Nisperos then pierced through the block and took the lead for Ateneo, but Klarisa Abriam answered right back to knot the count once again. From there, Joan Narit wrested the cudgels from Nisperos, providing the crucial attacks that forged a decider.
In the final chapter of the match, Nisperos waxed hot with four quick conversions, punishing the opposition in a plethora of ways. In contrary, the offense of St. Benilde went adrift, as the Lady Eagles soared to a commanding 6-0 headstart.
Still, Abriam did not allow the Lady Blazers to go down without a fight, dragging her team out of danger for an eight-all knot. Nisperos remained scorching , though, nailing a spike off the block. She then rained down a booming service ace for a 10-8 edge.
From that point onward, the Lady Eagles stifled every comeback attempt from the Lady Blazers. They rose to a 14-11 cushion before Nisperos dealt the lethal blow.
“Well Faith naman is really a talented player, pero there are times pa rin na she’s looking for a leader. But sabi ko nga, you just have to do your job. If you can be a leader, if you want to take charge, it’s okay. What’s important is you know your job and you accept it,” Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro said.
Narit and Ateneo skipper Ponggay Gaston supplied 10 markers each. The former had two kill blocks while the latter contributed with nine attacks and 15 excellent receptions. Erika Raagas chimed in nine points, spiked by a troika of aces.
Ateneo playmaker Jaja Maraguinot orchestrated the offense to the tune of 33 excellent sets, while Dani Ravena shouldered the floor duties with 16 excellent digs.
On the other hand, Abriam topped St. Benilde with 23 points from 16 attacks, four service bombs and three rejections that went for naught. Pascual chipped in 20 markers and 20 excellent digs for a double-double performance to no avail.
Marites Pablo also flaunted her all-around arsenal in a losing cause, dispersing 11 points and 33 excellent receptions. Jewel Lai tossed 23 excellent sets for the Lady Blazers, who continued to battle without Mycah Go.
Game Two will be played on Saturday, October 12, at the same venue.
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