MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Lady Eagles overcame a rough third set to sweep the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Tigresses in their second round match-up of the UAAP Season 75 women's volleyball tournament at the San Juan Arena Sunday.
With their 28-26, 25-15 and 25-22 victory, the Lady Eagles clinched the second-seed and gained a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four.
Alyssa Valdez was unstoppable in the first two sets, scoring 23 points on 18 attacks, two blocks and three service aces.
"Sabi ni coach (Roger Gorayeb), gawin lang namin ang part namin sa court. Since nagt-training naman kami, gawin lang namin ang ginagawa namin sa training," said Valdez, who continues to lead the league in terms of scoring.
After Ateneo raced to a 5-0 lead in the opening set, the Tigresses rallied after the first technical timeout. Skipper Judy Caballejo and Carmela Tunay combined to duel Valdez, and a down-the-line hit by Tunay allowed UST to reach set point, 24-23.
But Ateneo, behind the efforts of Valdez, twice saved a set point. An attack by Valdez from the back row allowed the Lady Eagles to win the opener.
With Valdez on an offensive groove, the Lady Eagles easily took the second set, 25-15.
Determined to force an extension, the Tigresses regrouped behind Caballejo and Maru Banaticla, whose cross-court attack allowed UST to take their largest lead of the match at 15-6.
Ateneo veterans Fille Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio and Jem Ferrer were able to cut into the lead, while rookie Marj Tejada also came up big for the Lady Eagles.
After trailing 6-15, Ateneo went on a 15-5 run. A service ace by Valdez gave them their first lead of the set at 21-20.
It was a lead they would not relinquish as Gretchen Ho scored on a quick hit to put Ateneo at match-point, and Cainglet ended matters by scoring off the UST blockers.
"May advantage kasi kapag twice-to-beat, magkakaroon pa kami ng self-confidence at mas gaganahan pa kami na mag-training at mag-laro," said Valdez.
Ateneo finished the season with a 10-4 record, while the Tigresses have an 8-6 record, tied with the National University Lady Bulldogs for fourth and fifth places.
The Tigresses and the Lady Bulldogs will battle for the fourth and last Final Four spot on Wednesday at the San Juan Arena.
In the first game, the Adamson Lady Falcons made quick work of the University of the Philippines Lady Maroons, 25-20, 25-9 and 25-17, to clinch a spot in the Final Four.
Adamson finished their season with a 9-5 record and the third-seed. They will face the Lady Eagles in the semi-finals.
UP, meanwhile, wound up their season with a 2-12 win-loss record.