Valdez steers Ateneo to Game 1 win over UST
MANILA, Philippines -- Ateneo de Manila University fought back from an opening-set loss to beat University of Santo Tomas in four sets in Game 1 of their 10th Shakey's V-League First Conference semifinals series Tuesday, May 14.
The Lady Eagles downed the Golden Tigresses, 20-25, 25-15, 29-27, 25-14, to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three series at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
Alyssa Valdez top scored for the Katipunan-based crew with 25 points off 19 hits, three blocks and three aces as Ateneo reasserted their mastery over a team they defeated in the elimination round.
In her first game with the Lady Eagles, Thai scoring machine Jang Bualee added 19 points while guest player Rachel Daquis chipped in with 10 markers.
"Our only goal is to win the game," said Valdez. "So inayos namin yung mindset namin na kaya naming manalo sa game."
Ateneo got off to a quick start in the first set, building a 5-1 lead before allowing the Tigresses to tie it at 11-all after a block on Fille Cainglet.
With the lead on their hands, the Espana-based squad did not let up and extended their advantage to 22-16 after Mela Tunay pierced through the Lady Eagles' defense.
Tunay then scored off a push before veteran Aiza Maizo closed it for UST, 25-20.
Ateneo went on a 5-0 run in the second set to turn a close match into an 11-6 bubble, then gradually buried the Tigresses into a deep hole and taking the second set, 25-15.
UST scored the first three points of the third frame, but the Lady Eagles responded with a 7-3 blast to take the driver's seat, 7-6.
Both squads traded hits until an outside shot by Daquis shoved the Tigresses ahead, 23-21, late in the set.
Pam Lastimosa sent UST to set point at 24-22 before Valdez kept Ateneo alive with back-to-back hits that tied the match at 24-all.
Lastimosa scored for the Tigresses again to bring them back to set point, 25-24, but a controversial overreaching called against UST brought the set into a deadlock anew.
What ensued was a fierce exchange of attacks featuring Maizo, Valdez, Bualee and Cainglet before Daquis ended the set for Ateneo at 29-27.
Out of sync
The Tigresses were never the same since then, apparently losing the energy that carried them through the first three sets as the Lady Eagles were quick to pounce on UST's disarray.
Cainglet added 10 points for Ateneo, who will look to book the first finals seat on Thursday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Tunay led four Tigresses in double figures with 14 points while Ortiz, Maizo and Lastimosa added 13, 12 and 10 markers, respectively. - with reports from Michael Angelo Jugado/Rappler.com