MANILA, Philippines -- The Ateneo Lady Eagles once again find themselves on the ropes after suffering a tough loss to University of Santo Tomas in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball Finals on Saturday.
Exactly one week ago, the Lady Eagles were on the brink of elimination following a five-set defeat to Far Eastern University in the Final 4, although the top-seeded squad rebounded in the do-or-die game to make it to the Finals.
They are in the same situation now, after UST clobbered them in the championship opener, 25-17, 25-16, 25-20, behind a sensational performance from Season 81 MVP Sisi Rondina.
The Lady Eagles kept mum on their way out of the Araneta Coliseum, but head coach Oliver Almadro offered words of reassurance.
"We're still positive," said Almadro. "And we still believe."
This statement echoed Almadro's optimistic outlook after they lost to FEU last week, when he said that he "had no doubt" about his team.
Kat Tolentino was the lone player in double-digits for Ateneo in Game 1, with 12 points.
Graduating middle blockers Maddie Madayag (6 points) and Bea de Leon (4) struggled to make their usual impact, and the Ateneo floor defense collapsed under the weight of Rondina's heavy attacks. The UST captain unloaded 20 attack points in the game, and finished with 23.
With their service reception and floor defense struggling, the Ateneo offense never had a chance to get untracked. The Lady Eagles, as a team, managed just 24 kills -- just four fewer than Rondina had by her lonesome.
Game 2 of the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball Finals is on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
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