Ateneo survives UST in 5-set thriller, keeps solo lead
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Ateneo Lady Eagles proved why they’re the solo leaders in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.
Showing incredible grit, Ateneo rallied from two sets down to turn back the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Golden Tigresses in 5 sets, 19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-22, 15-11, on Wednesday, March 20, at the Filoil Flying V Centre.
Maddie Madayag notched a career-high 23 points off 11 attacks, 11 blocks – a league record in the Final Four era – and 1 ace to power the Lady Eagles, who extended their winning streak to 7 games.
“Well, UST really came prepared today. That’s what I can say. But my players [really] fought well and their resiliency is really there,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro after the Lady Eagles solidified their hold of solo first place with a 7-1 slate.
UST stalwart Sisi Rondina also had a career night as she notched 35 points off 30 spikes, 3 blocks and 2 aces that matched Alyssa Valdez’ record output in 2013.
Rondina also made 25 excellent digs out of 37 attempts for the Golden Tigresses, who slipped to 3rd with a 5-3 record.
UST looked unstoppable in the first two sets with the league's best scorers Sisi Rondina and Eya Laure doing most of the damage on Ateneo's vulnerable floor defense.
Ateneo had a chance to even the match down the stretch of the 2nd set, closing in within a point, 21-22. But UST captain Rondina scored 3 straight points that gave the Golden Tigresses another set win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
Ateneo took control early in the 3rd set, but eventually conceded the lead as Rondina and Laure combined for back-to-back attacks and Vanie Gandler committed an attack error on the antenna, 16-16.
But the Lady Eagles rallied back to reach set point, 24-22, before back-to-back Ateneo violations extended the set.
Although UST managed to nab match point, captain Bea de Leon lifted Ateneo down the stretch and closed out the set with an ace.
UST bounced back in the 4th set as Ateneo’s errors allowed them to go on a 5-0 run, 13-8.
The Lady Eagles, though, managed to chip off the lead and Ponggay Gaston’s personal 3-0 run got Ateneo within one, 16-17.
Sustaining the momentum, the Lady Eagles nabbed the lead and pulled away to extend the match to a decider.
Ateneo trailed UST, 6-8, in the 5th set before Kat Tolentino and Madayag combined to take the lead, 11-10.
The Lady Eagles closed out the set with a 4-1 run. – Rappler.com