MANILA, Philippines – Faith Nisperos had the game of her young life on Saturday, June 4, at the Mall of Asia Arena as the defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles survived the gutsy Adamson Lady Falcons in a thrilling five-set finish, 24-26, 25-21, 25-19, 23-25, 19-17.
The team’s leading scorer further separated herself from the rest of the pack with a career-high 31-point explosion off 26 attacks, 4 aces, and 1 block as Ateneo took solo fourth place away from Adamson with a 7-5 record. The Lady Falcons, meanwhile, settled right under at fifth with a 6-6 slate.
Ateneo now heads to its rivalry match against second-seeded La Salle on Tuesday, June 7, 4 pm, with much-needed momentum, while Adamson seeks to bounce back at the 6:30 pm main event and eliminate sixth-ranked UP in the process.
The Lady Falcons looked all but finished in the fifth set endgame after an Aliah Marce attack error hiked Ateneo’s lead to 13-10, while a Nisperos backrow kill clinched match point at 14-12. But a Trisha Genesis save and an Erika Raagas attack error breathed life to Adamson with a 14-all match reset that stretched to 16-all.
Genesis even stole match point with a kill for the 17-16 Adamson lead, but a pair of Rizza Cruz attack errors proved too costly at that stage of the game as a final miscommunication on the Lady Falcons’ side ended a 3-0 error-laden run in favor of Ateneo.
“I guess all my players stepped up. We just had to play the right way,” said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro. “When we’re playing tense, we tend to make mistakes. We have to be sound fundamentally. We have to do good in everything we do.”
“Nothing special, nothing spectacular. I just asked our players ever since we started a bit doubtful, but we’re getting our faith, and we’re getting our confidence.”
Vanie Gandler backstopped Nisperos’ huge offensive spurt with 15 points, while Raagas scored 14. Lead libero Roma Doromal anchored the defensive end with 29 excellent receptions on top of 19 excellent digs.
Genesis and Marce led the way in the heartbreaking loss with 16 and 15 points, respectively, while Cruz and Lorene Toring each scored 12.
Lucille Almonte, who spent the last four games as one of Adamson’s liberos, went back to her old open spiker position and finished with 10 points. – Rappler.com