MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles almost blew a two-set lead but mended just in time to beat Adamson University in an electrifying five-setter, 25-22, 25-19, 16-25, 25-18, 15-13, in the 76th UAAP Women’s Volleyball tournament, Saturday, February 1, at The Arena in San Juan.
After sailing through in the first two sets, Ateneo had to repulse an Adamson resurgence as the Lady Falcons almost pulled the rug from under them but Alyssa Valdez made some crucial hits in end game to seal the Katipunan crew’s seventh win this season and position themselves comfortably for a Final Four slot.
Valdez top-billed for Ateneo this afternoon as she poured in 26 markers, including the Lady Eagle’s last two points in the fifth set while Ella De Jesus finished with 13 as they thwarted Adamson’s plans of joining them in third place in the table.
With the playoffs looming just around the corner, both teams engaged in a thrilling see-saw battle early on but it was Ateneo who came away with the opening frame win after edging the Falcons, 25-22.
It was errors-galore for Adamson in the second canto as Sheila Pineda and Amanda Villanueva could not find their groove going but Ateneo also fell to numerous lapses late in the set that gave the Lady Falcons a chance to come as close as 21-18.
With Amy Ahomiro and Valdez struggling in the frame, rookie Julia Morado stepped into the spotlight as she scored back-to-back clutch hits to end the set, 25-19, favor of Ateneo
Adamson, however, refused to go home early as Pineda scattered eight of her 25 points in the third set to stay alive in the game, 25-16.
Stunned by Adamson’s inspired comeback, Ateneo then yielded to more errors as they piled up 10 in the fourth set alone as Mayette Zapanta joined in the fray to force a deciding fifth frame, 25-18.
After being silent for most of the game, Ahomiro made her presence felt as she hit some crucial points in the fifth but Pineda continued her assault until crunch time to give Adamson a 12-10 lead.
The Lady Falcons crumbled under the pressure, though, as Pineda and Zapanta committed three errors in a row that tied the game at 13-apiece.
Valdez, battling cramps since the fourth frame, then asserted herself in winning time as she empathically blocked Faye Guevarra’s attempt and fired a spike of her own to give Ateneo the hard-earned victory, 15-13.
The Lady Eagles were hounded by 40 errors, compared to Adamson’s 29 but Morado’s scintillating 50 excellent sets and injured Denden Lazaro’s 23 digs did wonders for Ateneo.
Ahomiro’s late-game efforts pitched in 11 points for Ateneo while Marge Tejada and Morado finished with 7 points each.
Backing up Pineda’s 25 markers on the Adamson side was Zapanta’s 16 as Mylene Paat also scored 11 points of her own.
With the win, Ateneo improves its record to 7-4 as Adamson drops to 5-6 and will have to pull off a string of victories in their next outings if they are to position themselves better for a playoffs berth.
The Lady Falcons will return to action on Wednesday, February 5, against Far Eastern University while Ateneo will have a one-week break before facing the still-winless University of the East next Saturday, February 8. – Rappler.com
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