The Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) Lady Eagles stayed perfect in the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference, but needed astronomical contribution from its Open Hitters, Alyssa Valdez and Jhoana Maraguinot, to overcome the University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons in four sets, 25-18, 26-24, 20-25, 25-15, at the FilOil Flying V Arena, Saturday afternoon.
Paced by Ateneo’s errors and a frisky effort from its young core, the Lady Maroons were able to drag Ateneo to the deep end multiple times. In the opening set, the Lady Maroons trimmed a 12-5 Ateneo lead down to three, 14-11, thanks to assertive blocking from their middle blockers. The Lady Eagles quickly responded and boosted their advantage back up to six, 18-12, after an Amy Ahomiro down-the-line kill. Maraguinot erupted to close the set scoring, four of Ateneo’s last seven points in the first period.
The Lady Maroons seemed to have bucked their first set jitters midway through the following set. After trailing, 4-8, the Lady Maroons whittled down the deficit, and eventually took the lead, 14-11, after a Maristella Layug block on Amy Ahomiro. UP’s lead lasted them, until Valdez and Maraguinot took matters into their hands with Ateneo down, 18-20. Taking turns in scoring points, the pair eventually regained the lead for Ateneo, 23-22, but UP’s Justine Dorog and Diana Carlos claimed clutch back-to-back smashes that propelled their team to first crack at set point, 24-23. From there, Valdez pulled her team to the 2-0 sets lead after scoring consecutive kills after a UP error.
Sticking to their steady ball control, the Lady Maroons finally caught a break in the third frame. Their blocking kept Ateneo at bay early, allowing them to zoom to the set win after lackdaisical efforts from Ateneo’s backrow allowed UP to rifle off a 3-1 run that ended the set convincingly.
The Lady Eagles had enough and went for the jugular in the fourth canto. Leading from the first point, Ateneo fired off haymakers from the service area and were still propelled by the incendiary Valdez-Maraguinot pair. The Ladies from Loyola bolstered a 9-6 lead all they way up to seven, 15-8, after Alyssa Valdez blocked a Layug hit. Their seven point lead held up until the end of the match and gave them a 4-0 slate.
Two-time UAAP MVP, Alyssa Valdez dropped 29 markers which included 25 attacks, three blocks, and an ace, while her U23 teammate, Jhoana Maraguinot dished out 24 points off 22 attacks and two aces.
When asked about her and Maraguinot’s marvelous play, Alyssa Valdez credited their success to Coach Tai Bundit’s insistence on keeping the opponent on their toes. “Halos every point gusto ni Coach Tai ibang set, ibang position naman kami. Ang gusto niya iba-iba ‘yung diskarte namin sa court.”
Valdez added that her team still has a lot to improve on. “Kay Coach Tai, okay lang na nailalagay kami sa mga ganyang mahirap na sitwasyon para pagdating sa training alam na namin kung bakit kailangan kami laging nakafocus,” the two-time UAAP champ said referring to her team’s whooping 32 errors.
Open hitter, Justine Dorog led the balanced UP charge with 14 points, while Diana Carlos and Isa Molde added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
UP drops to a 0-4 record and has the UST Tigresses on August 22, Saturday. The Lady Eagles throw down with the defending NCAA champs, Arellano Lady Chiefs on the same day.
ADMU (3) – Valdez 29, Maraguinot 24, De Leon 7, Ahomiro 7, Madayag 2, Gequillana 2, Tan 1, De Jesus (L)
UP (1) – Dorog 14, Carlos 12, Molde 10, Buitre 8, Layug 5, Lai 1, Ong 0, Gaiser (L), Estranero (L)
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