MANILA, Philippines – Ateneo's top hitter Kat Tolentino labored to a subpar performance on Saturday when the Lady Eagles bowed to archrivals De La Salle University in the second round of the UAAP Season 81 tournament.
Tolentino, who entered the match averaging 15 points per game, was held to just six points as the Lady Spikers handed the Lady Eagles a 25-17, 25-13, 25-23 beating.
The loss snapped Ateneo's 10-match winning streak in the tournament and prevented them from securing the top seed in the Final 4.
It was already their second loss to La Salle this season; the defending champions remain the only team that the Lady Eagles have not beaten in Season 81.
"I think it will be a motivation for us," Tolentino said of their 0-2 record against La Salle so far.
"It will teach us a lot about what we need to improve on for the upcoming games," she added. "I mean, it's not over yet, this is still the eliminations."
"So it's really just a learning process, and we'll just bounce back from it, I think."
Tolentino gave credit to La Salle for how they played: the Lady Spikers took Ateneo's fearsome net defense out of the equation on Saturday. And for the first time in Season 81, the Lady Eagles failed to register a single block.
Moreover, their tough serving again made life difficult for Ateneo, and they put up just 27 attack points. Tolentino, one of the most efficient spikers in the league, converted just five of her 23 attempts in the match.
"This was a crucial game for them, so I think they really came all out. For us, we were a little bit more complacent," admitted Tolentino.
"I know for me I didn't contribute the way that I should, so it will only be a learning process for us, and we'll bounce back next game," she vowed.
At 10-2, the Lady Eagles are still a game ahead of La Salle (9-3) for the No. 1 seed, and their last two matches are against teams that are already out of the running for a Final 4 spot. Tolentino said they will go all out in their final two elimination round games as they are gunning for the top seed.
"We still want that first-place spot, we can still get it by the end of this elimination. We're not gonna change anything, we're gonna keep practicing hard, we're gonna keep focusing and training," she said.
"That's really where the wins come from. It's not from just the game, it's really how you prepare."
The Lady Eagles return to action on April 24 against Adamson University.
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