Video by RYAN LEAGOGO/INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo dented La Salle’s perfect record with a stunning 17-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-20 triumph in the opener of the UAAP season 76 women’s volleyball finals Wednesday.
The Lady Eagles stretched their winning streak to eight, the longest in the team’s history as they snapped the Lady Spikers’ own winning streak at 30 in more than a year.
“Coach Tai reminded us, “heart strong,” that we can do it. So that’s was our mindset, that we’re good players and we can defeat them,” said rookie Michelle Morente, who led Ateneo with 17 points.
The Lady Eagles didn’t even need a backbreaking effort from star Alyssa Valdez, who had a quiet 16 points, as other players like Amy Ahomiro and Alyssa De Jesus contributed to to the win.
Ahomiro also had 16 points as she helped sustain the Lady Eagles’ run in the pivotal third set, while the diminutive yet high-leaping De Jesus added 12 in a quality performance for Ateneo.
After the second set comeback, Ateneo carried the momentum into the third set and built a 10-point lead, 21-10, which La Salle couldn’t overcome.
Errors and poor coverage proved to be the Lady Archers undoing as they gave away as much as 11 points in the second set, and managed only four attack points in the third.
La Salle sprung back to life late in the fourth set, closing in at 21-20, on a hit by Cyd Demecillo but that was the last the Lady Spikers would score as Ateneo racked up the next four points.
Demecillo finished with 16 points for La Salle, Ara Galang added 13 and Aby Maraño, 10.
Ateneo, though, still has to win two more times to topple La Salle, which came into the finals with a thrice-to-beat advantage.
Game 2 is on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.