Ateneo sends UAAP finals vs La Salle to do-or-die game 4
Video by INQUIRER.net’s Noy Morcoso lll
MANILA, Philippines — Ateneo, once again, survived a do-or-die match with a 25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 16-25, 17-15 win over rival La Salle Wednesday to drag the UAAP women’s finals series to a deciding game four.
The Lady Eagles overcame three straight knockout games in the step-ladder semifinals to set up a finals meet with powerhouse La Salle, which had a thrice-to-beat edge.
But Ateneo, playing inspired volleyball, became the first team to blemish La Salle’s record in 31 games and is threatening to end the Lady Spikers’ three-year reign.
The Lady Eagles, though, had to hung tough to neutralize the Lady Spikers’ masterful turnaround as they squandered a 2-0 set edge.
“It’s La Salle, their experience in the finals is really high compared to us. For me, they will always come back. I think we were rattled,” Alyssa Valdez said.
With La Salle just three points away from clinching their fourth straight crown, Ateneo exuded its “heart strong” mantra and tied the match at 14.
It started with three straight hits from Amy Ahomiro, who has been a steady force for the Lady Eagles, then Ateneo took a 14-13 lead for the match point.
La Salle answered back to get to within a point of the championship, before Valdez and rookie Michelle Morente drilled in back-to-back hits paired with an error from the Lady Spikers to seal the win.
“Coach [Tai Bundit] always tells us that it’s not over until the final point,” said Valdez, who led with 22 points. “Our teamwork really worked for us. Coach really instilled in us his ‘heart strong’ mentality.”
Ahomiro and Morente each had 18 points for the Lady Eagles, who rushed to a 25-21, 25-23 lead which stunned what used to be a seemingly-indestructible La Salle side.
“The players played happy, they believed they will win,” said the Thai mentor, who has steered the Lady Eagles to an unbelievable run to the title round.
Game four is on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Spikers give their “four-peat” bid another go after missing the chance despite coming alive in the third and fourth sets anchored on Ara Galang’s efforts.
La Salle’s coverage and blocking greatly improved after the 0-2 deficit, leading by as many as nine points in the match-tying fourth set.
But despite an edge in experience, the Lady Spikers lacked the finishing kick and lost a 12-8 lead in the fifth set.
Galang finished with a game-best 28 points, including five blocks, while Cyd Demicillo and Mika Reyes combined for 23 points for La Salle.
Originally posted at 06:17 pm
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