Battle of the Rivals: Valdez, Ateneo best La Salle in 5 sets
Even after graduation, Alyssa Valdez did everything for Ateneo as she powered the blue side to a thrilling five-set win, 17-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-21, 15-13, over La Salle Sunday in the Battle of the Rivals at Mall of Asia Arena.
The three-time UAAP Most Valuable Player ended a rally with a game-winning spike past Michele Gumabao and Mika Reyes in the climax of a pulsating duel and complete the come-from-behind victory for the Lady Eagles.
Valdez pumped in 36 points, 32 off kills, three service aces, and a block, while Ella De Jesus got 10 of her 11 markers from hits.
Playing catch-up in the first two sets, the Lady Spikers pounced on Ateneo’s miscues and roared back from a 16-11 deficit in Set 2, with Aby Maraño and Ara Galang staging a 10-1 blast to grab the 21-17 lead, en route to them grabbing a commanding 2-0 lead.
But it was the Lady Eagles’ turn to return the favor in the third set, crawling back from a 17-13 disadvantage before stringing a 12-1 run to take the 25-18 win and gain the momentum it needed to force a deciding fifth set.
Tied at 11, Valdez sent the ball down the line before two straight errors put Ateneo at match point.
Kim Fajardo kept La Salle alive with an off-speed attack, but Valdez took matters into her own hands to lead Ateneo to victory.
Jia Morado was adjudged the Player of the Game for Ateneo as she finished with five points and 58 of the Lady Eagles’ 61 excellent sets.
Maraño, meanwhile, was named the Player of the Game for La Salle as she unfurled 16 points, 10 from attacks, three blocks, and three service aces for the green side.
Galang also added 16 markers, Paneng Mercado got 13 points, and Mika Reyes had 11 in a losing effort.
Proceeds of the game that drew a full-house, will go to the athletic scholarship programs of both schools.
The game will be shown in a delayed telecast on July 22, 6 p.m., at ABS-CBN Sports+Action.
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