MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) After absorbing a tough loss to their archrivals last weekend, the Ateneo Lady Eagles bounced back in superb fashion on Wednesday.
Showcasing much better reception and displaying a sharper offense, Ateneo dismissed Far Eastern University (FEU) in just three sets, 25-19, 25-21, 25-17, to open the second round of the UAAP Season 80 women's volleyball tournament on a bright note.
It was an impressive performance for the Lady Eagles, who were reeling from a four-set defeat at the hands of De La Salle University last Saturday where they gave up 16 aces.
But coach Tai Bundit's plan to move former utility spiker Ponggay Gaston to the libero position worked, as Ateneo received much better en route to the three-set win. They memorably gave up 20 aces to the Lady Tamaraws when they played in the first round, but FEU had only three service aces this time around.
"(We were) definitely super motivated just because the first round maybe didn't go as we wanted so this is like a fresh start for us. We really wanted to start off strong," said Ateneo's Kat Tolentino after the game.
The Lady Eagles held off FEU's rallies in the first and second frames, and used that momentum to race to a 12-6 lead in the third set. Miscues by Ateneo helped the Lady Tamaraws come back, and an attack error by Maddie Madayag trimmed the deficit to three points, 17-14.
But Madayag made up for her error with a massive block of Jeanette Villareal in the very next rally, touching off a 4-1 exchange that put Ateneo back in control, 21-15.
FEU last threatened after Celine Domingo's down-the-line hit made it a four-point game, 21-17, but the Lady Tamaraws simply had no answer for Jhoana Maraguinot down the stretch as she towed Ateneo to victory.
"Nakakataas talaga ng confidence sa team namin. Sobrang nag-pay off naman ang training namin, at saka pinakita namin kung paano talaga kami maglaro," said Madayag.
Ateneo snapped the Lady Tamaraws' four-game winning streak. Both teams are now tied with 5-3 win-loss records.
Maraguinot fired 15 points for Ateneo, while Tolentino added 11 markers, all on attacks. The Lady Eagles tallied 38 attack points to only 27 for FEU.
Toni Rose Basas was the only player in double-digits for the Lady Tamaraws with 10 points, as skipper Bernadeth Pons was limited to only five points.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)