Lady Eagles soar past Tigresses
Brandishing the fighting heart that mattered when the chips were down, Ateneo negated the massive firepower that University of Santo Tomas packed behind star hitter Sisi Rondina.
Facing match-point and the prospects of seeing their six-game winning streak snapped via a straight sets loss, the Lady Eagles came charging back to score a come-from-behind 19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-22, 15-11 victory on Wednesday night at FilOil Flying V Centre.
Their seventh win in eight matches kept the Lady Eagles firmly entrenched at the top while sending a message across the field that no one player can beat them.
The win also allowed Ateneo to keep its mastery of UST, extending its streak in their head-to-head rivalry to 15 games dating back to Season 74.
Rondina equaled a league record held by one of the league’s most illustrious stars, dropping 35 points on the Ateneo defense.
But the Lady Eagles were simply up to the challenge and refused to just fold up and die.
Rondina also had help, with rookie Eya Laure chipping in 21 points.
But the offense was not enough for UST to extend a three-game winning streak as the Tigresses absorbed their third loss in eight games.
Earlier, University of the East got a big jolt in the third set but still managed to keep its poise and turned back National University, 25-16, 25-18, 24-26, 25-16.
Poised to take the win in just three sets, the Lady Warriors found the going rough in the third frame as the Lady Bulldogs raced to a 24-18 lead and forged a fourth set.
Veterans Me-Anne Mendrez and Judith Abil put things in order in the fourth set to secure UE’s second victory in eight games, tying NU.
It was a revenge of sorts for the Lady Warriors, who bowed to the young Lady Bulldogs in the first round.
Maddie Madayag scored 23 points, 11 of them on kill-blocks, to frustrate UST’s vaunted gunners, including the heavy hitter Dimdim Pacres, the designated third option who was limited to six points.
When Madayag heard of her stats, she was surprised: “Serious? Oh my gosh. I just played my game and did whatever I can to contribute to the team.”
Kat Tolentino added 20 points, and Ateneo also got big games from team captain Bea de Leon and libero Dani Ravena.
The Tigresses were never the same after failing to wrap it up in the third set, although Rondina continued her scoring binge.
The two teams exchanged leads several times until Ateneo took advantage of Eya Laure’s service error at the 10-10 score line and took it up a notch for the 13-10 advantage after Kat Tolentino’s ace.
Rondina matched the league record of Alyssa Valdez for Ateneo in 2013.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.