MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles ended a two-game losing streak in the UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball tournament after sweeping the University of the Philippines (UP) Wednesday at the Arena in San Juan.
Ateneo won comfortably in sets one and two but had to weather a UP fightback in the third set to book a 25-15, 25-14, and 26-24 victory.
The Lady Eagles entered the game having lost two straight matches at the hands of the defending champions De La Salle, but got back on the winning track to notch their sixth victory of the season against three defeats.
Alyssa Valdez, the Best Scorer of the league last season, led the way again for Ateneo with 19 points but got plenty of help from Amy Ahomiro, who scored 14.
The Lady Maroons got off to a good start in the opening set, using their net defense and taking advantage of Ateneo’s errors to build an 8-5 victory. But coming out of the first technical timeout, the Lady Eagles unleashed a crippling 11-2 run that allowed them to take a 16-10 lead, and UP never recovered.
UP registered a measly three attack points in the opening set, and the deficit could have been worse had it not been for Ateneo’s nine unforced errors.
The Lady Maroons’ floor defense improved in the second set, and they again took the lead early, 10-9. But just as it was in the opener, Ateneo took control in the middle of the set, this time with a 5-0 blast behind the attacks of Valdez that allowed them to take the lead for good.
The UP defense again fell apart late, with Marge Tejada scoring back-to-back aces to end the set.
Ateneo looked as though they were cruising to victory in the third set, leading by as much as six points, 17-11, prompting coach Parley Tupaz to put reserves Gizelle Tan and Bea Tan into the game.
The Lady Eagles had a 20-16 lead when they committed consecutive unforced errors. Michelle Morente had a service error, back-up setter Gizelle Tan crossed the line, and Valdez committed a hitting error. Ateneo’s seemingly comfortable lead vanished and UP took the lead, 21-20, after another mishit by Valdez.
“Siguro hindi naman maiiwasan sa game na may time na magre-relax,” Valdez admitted afterwards. “’Yun ‘yung nangyari sa team.”
UP actually reached set point first, 24-23, after Valdez was blocked. But the Lady Eagles regrouped, with an Ahomiro down-the-line kill tying the game at 24-all. Valdez then scored an ace, and a reception error by UP allowed Ateneo to wrap up the three-set win.
“Fortunately, nabawi at naibalik namin ang momentum,” said Valdez.
Ella de Jesus added eight points for the Lady Eagles, Marge Tejada added seven, and Mae Tajima scored six.
No player scored in double digits for the Lady Maroons, with skipper Angeli Araneta notching eight points.
Ateneo improved to 6-3 this season, while UP dropped to 1-8.