MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Ateneo looked hopeless in the first two sets, but the Lady Eagles overturned the deficit to exact revenge on last season's semis opponent Far Eastern University (FEU).
The Lady Eagles rallied from two sets down to stun the Lady Tamaraws in a five-set thriller, 14-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-12, and roll to their second straight win in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday, February 24, at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Just like her squad, Kat Tolentino got off to a slow start before powering the Lady Eagles with 19 points off 17 attacks and 2 blocks in the rematch of last year’s semis showdown.
Last season, FEU played spoiler by denying Ateneo's bid for a seventh straight Finals appearance.
The Lady Eagles made it a three-way tie for 2nd at 2-1 with the UST Lady Tigresses and the UP Lady Maroons. The Lady Tamaraws fell to 1-2. (UAAP Season 81 Volleyball: Schedule, team standings and updates)
Ateneo escaped the deadlock in the 5th set as FEU committed back-to-back errors that gifted the Lady Eagles with match point. Tolentino’s crosscourt spike closed out the huge Ateneo comeback.
“Our legs are not working, our minds are not working. Hindi namin alam kung ano nangyari sa amin noong first two sets,” explained Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro.
“I just told them to keep the faith. Nagtiwala sila sa sarili nila, and the skills came out.”
(Our legs are not working, our minds are not working. We don’t know what happened to us in the first two sets. I just told them to keep the faith. They trusted themselves, and the skills came out.)
FEU’s Heather Guino-o had a breakout game of 16 points while Celine Domingo and Jerrili Malabanan tallied 13 points each in the losing effort.
It was a different story early in the game as Ateneo struggled with its defense as FEU peppered them with 8 aces in the 1st set.
FEU rode on its hot start to stretch the lead to 22-11, and even if the Lady Eagles answered back with a 5-0 run, the gap proved too much to overcome.
But Ateneo got its groove in the 3rd set and denied the FEU of a sweep.
After the Lady Tamaraws made it a one-point game, 19-20, Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro’s restrategizing worked as the Lady Eagles closed out the set with a 5-2 run to stay alive.
The Lady Eagles continued to wax hot in the 4th, controlling the entire frame and quickly racing to set point, 24-16.
But even Dani Ravena’s two touches error and an attack from Jerrili Malabanan could not derail them from extending it to a deciding set. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.