MANILA, Philippines – The Ateneo Blue Eagles reentered the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball winners’ circle after sweeping the UP Fighting Maroons to end a four-game slide, 25-16, 25-20, 25-22, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre on Sunday, March 19.
Vanie Gandler topscored in the long-awaited win with 17 points off 13 attacks, 2 blocks, and 2 aces as Ateneo ended the first round with a 2-5 record in sixth place.
Gandler’s fellow team captain Faith Nisperos backstopped the effort with 14 points off 12 spikes and 2 aces, while sophomore blocker AC Miner scored 7.
Following a first-set blowout and a late pullaway in the second, Ateneo faced a stiffer challenge in the third after a 5-1 UP start created enough momentum to let the Maroons stay in striking distance all the way to crunch time.
As Ateneo nursed a precious one-point lead late in the third, 22-21, Gandler sparked her team’s final run with a crosscourt hit before Nisperos wrapped things up with back-to-back attacks.
“We missed this feeling. I thank the Lord for giving us strength and I thank the players for accepting the challenge,” said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro.
“I challenged them to take pride and have a strong character in this game, no matter who the opponent is.”
UP captain Jewel Encarnacion was the lone Maroon in double-digit scoring with 11 points, while Nina Ytang and Aly Bertolano were checked to just 7 and 6 points, respectively.
UP faces one final challenge in the first round as the bounce-back-minded Adamson Lady Falcons await on Wednesday, March 22, 12 pm, at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com
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