MANILA, Philippines – The Cinderella run for Ateneo continues as the Blue Eagles earned a 25-23, 25-23, 25-20 sweep of the UST Golden Tigresses in the UAAP Season 84 stepladder semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday, June 14.
The twice-to-beat La Salle Lady Spikers now await the defending champions as the semifinals begin on Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 pm, still at the MOA Arena.
Faith Nisperos continued her blazing-hot scoring spree with 23 points off 17 attacks, 4 aces, and 2 blocks to lead the fourth-ranked Blue Eagles, while Vanie Gandler added 15 points.
Dani Ravena shored up the defense with 17 excellent digs out of just 23 attempts, while Jaja Maraguinot tallied 15 excellent sets.
Seething from a 23-25 loss in the opening set where they blew an early lead, the third-seeded UST started strong in the second, and mounted an 18-14 advantage off an Eya Laure kill. However, the Eagles again pulled through late with a 7-0 swing, ending with a Lyann de Guzman block on Laure for a 21-18 advantage.
Although UST fought to a 23-22 edge, the Tigresses’ defense again faltered in the endgame as Ateneo mounted its second straight Nisperos-powered 3-0 finishing kick for a commanding two-set lead.
Demoralized by back-to-back set losses, UST fell apart in the late stages of the third as Nisperos fired off one last scoring spree, ending with the punctuation kill for a 25-20 finish.
“We knew UST will ramp it up. As you saw, we were the ones who caught up with them,” said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro in Filipino. “It’s a matter of finishing strong, finishing right, and relying on our fundamentals.”
After a searing-hot offensive start to the season, Eya Laure wrapped up a disappointing campaign with 15 points on a 13-of-38 attack clip, plus 17 excellent receptions, and 8 excellent digs, while Imee Hernandez backstopped the losing effort with 11 points.
Ateneo takes on La Salle next in the stepladder semifinals on Thursday, with the No. 2 seed Lady Spikers needing only to win once to advance to the championship round against National University.
The semifinalists figured in a stepladder format as the NU Lady Bulldogs earned an outright finals berth after completing a 14-0 sweep of the eliminations. – Rappler.com