Lady Eagles nip Lady Bulldogs for the last UAAP volleyball finals berth | Inquirer Sports

Lady Eagles nip Lady Bulldogs for the last UAAP volleyball finals berth

/ 06:25 PM March 01, 2014

The Ateneo Lady Eagles overcame a twice-to-beat advantage by the National University Lady Bulldogs to barge into the finals of the UAAP 76 women’s volleyball for the third straight year. Ateneo, winning in four sets, 25-22, 8-25, 25-19, 25-22, at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, March 1, 2014, will face archrival La Salle, which carries a thrice-to-beat edge, on Wednesday, March 5. Video by INQUIRER.net’s Noy Morcoso lll

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MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo overcame National University, 25-22, 8-25, 25-19, 25-22, on Saturday to book a finals meeting for the third straight year with La Salle in the UAAP season 76 women’s volleyball tournament.

Despite an 8-25 second set clobbering — the type of setback that would usually send a weaker team reeling — the Lady Eagles were all heart, showing no signs of cowering and towing the momentum back in their favour in the third set.

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“Everybody played good today. [My players] worked hard in training against tough competition [in NU]. Their hearts are strong, we played happily in a team concept,” said Ateneo head coach Anusorn. Bundit.

There was no denying that the Lady Eagles played with the bigger heart as they employed the same strategy in frustrating the twice-to-beat Lady Bulldogs last Wednesday, 25-17, 12-25, 31-29, 28-26.

Alyssa Valdez capped her 22-point performance with an explosive down the line spike that shattered the hopes of a finals’ appearance by the Lady Bulldogs.

It was a dominating performance for Valdez, especially in the third and fourth sets where Ateneo came alive and found a way to subdue NU’s twin towers Jaja and Dindin Santiago.

Team manager Tony Boy Liao, who aided Bundit during the interview, said that the team dissected game tapes to figure out how to neutralize Santiago’s attacking.

“In the past game, we saw that almost all of her hits are running. The tactic was when she attempts to attack, we know where the ball goes so we know how to defend it,” Liao said.

In the third set, Valdez bucked a twisted ankle, got back and fired a kill that gave Ateneo a three-point lead, 16-13, which it would never relinquish.

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“It’s part of the game. Even during training, coach always pushes us,” said Valdez.

The diminutive yet powerful Ella De Jesus added 12 points for the Lady Eagles while Amy Ahomiro and Michelle Morente chipped in nine points apiece.

The Lady Eagles will face rival La Salle Lady Spikers, who have a daunting thrice-to-beat edge for sweeping the elimination round, in the finals starting on Wednesday.

It was a heartbreaking finish for NU, which couldn’t repeat its dominant second-set performance that saw it put up eight blocks.

Dindin Santiago finished with 19 points for NU, but a service error in the end game proved costly as it gave the Lady Eagles match point.  Her younger sister Jaja added 14 points.

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TAGS: Ateneo, NU, Sports, UAAP 76, Volleyball, women's volleyball
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