Prized-rookie Faith Nisperos scintillated in her much-awaited Ateneo debut as the Lady Eagles opened their new era with a win over Colegio de San Juan de Letran Lady Knights, 25-16, 22-25, 25-13, 25-20, in the 2019 PVL Collegiate Conference, Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
Nisperos, the blue-chip recruit out of National University, dropped 19 points — built on 17 attacks and two aces.
Down by a solitary point in the fourth frame, 13-14, Vanie Gandler waxed hot from the service area. She nailed four aces in a 6-0 run that gave the Lady Eagles a five-point breather.
Though the feisty Lady Knights fought back and whittled away the deficit, Nisperos restored order for Ateneo before they went on cruise control towards the finish line.
Following a rousing conference opener, Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro disclosed that they had to make some last-minute adjustments after Ponggay Gaston was ruled out for their curtain-raiser.
“We have to adjust our rotation because ponggay got sick kahapon talaga. You know naman hindi kompleto yung line-up namin so we really have to make a way find a way with what we have,” Almadro said.
Gandler helped fill the gap with 15 points — seven of which coming from aces — on top of 15 excellent digs. Erika Raagas supplied 11 points while Jules Samonte managed eight.
Ateneo setter Deanna Wong was also not present as she is still recovering from a shin injury.
Stepping up in the playmaking department was Jaja Maraguinot, who delivered the goods with 24 excellent sets laced with seven markers. Dani Ravena patrolled on defense with 23 excellent digs and 10 excellent receptions.
“I’m proud naman na naging resilient sila sa ginagawa nila. It’s a learning process. I don’t doubt my team, I don’t doubt my players. What’s important for me is they have to know what’s going on and they know how to adjust,” Almadro added.
On the other hand, two Lady Knights graced twin-digit territory. Charm Simborio topped her team with 14 points to go along with 16 excellent digs and five excellent receptions.Chamberlaine Cunada managed 12 markers.
Ateneo looks to make it two in a row when it faces San Sebastian on Saturday, August 24. Meanwhile, Letran will try to chalk a win against San Beda on Sunday, August 25. Both matches will be played at the same venue.