Ateneo de Manila University picked up from where it left off in Game One, dousing the fire of College of St. Benilde, 25-20, 25-14, 22-25, 25-19, and salvaging bronze in the 2019 PVL Collegiate Conference, Saturday at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
The Lady Eagles came out firing on all cylinders. They sprinted to a 16-7 advantage in the opening salvo, then belted the Lady Blazers with a 16-8 whipping in the second set for a commanding two-set buffer.
With a win in sight, Ateneo kicked their offense into a higher gear. The Lady Eagles leaned on their precise execution at the net and mounted a 16-5 cushion, where they seemed to have the bronze medal match in hand.
Still, St. Benilde’s fire would not die out despite being mired in deep waters. Behind Gayle Pascual, the Lady Blazers fought back from 11 points down, whittling away the deficit and knotting the count at 22.
Jewel Lai then pounced on an over-receive from the Lady Eagles some sequences later, buoying St. Benilde to set point. The Lady Blazers then completed the comeback.
Refusing to figure in another uphill battle, though, Ateneo bucked a third-set meltdown and seized command in the fourth chapter.
Clinging on a slim 16-14 advantage, Ponggay Gaston spiked the ball off the hands of Jade Gentapa. Her attack incited a decisive spurt for the Lady Eagles en route to a 20-15 spread. From then on, they went into cruise control and cemented their hold of the third place.
Faith Nisperos — who erupted for a career-high 35 points in Game One — top-billed anew. She finished with 21 points built on 19 attacks, while collecting 14 excellent digs.
Jules Samonte anchored above the net with four kill blocks, contributing 16 markers. Gaston and Joan Narit were also instrumental in the bronze medal conquest, chiming in 12 points apiece. Gaston had a pair of service aces, while Narit stymied the opposition with three rejections.
Ateneo playmaker Jaja Maraguinot tossed 22 excellent sets, while defensive specialist Dani Ravena tallied 16 excellent digs.
On the other hand, St. Benilde ended its campaign as the fourth placer of the collegiate tournament.
Pascual topped the lone NCAA team in the Final Four with 11 points, while Gentapa and Diane Ventura managed eight and seven markers, respectively. Klarisa Abriam was limited to just six points in the contest.