Ateneo seizes Final Four berth with 10th straight win
MANILA, Philippines – Still undefeated.
The Ateneo Lady Eagles claimed their 10th consecutive win and assured themselves of a Final Four berth and a twice-to-beat advantage with a convincing straigh-set 25-18, 25-18, 25-18 victory over a sliding UP Lady Maroons in the UAAP Season 77 women's volleyball tournament on Saturday, January 31 at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Reigning Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez asserted her might again with 20 points with 3 aces for the Lady Eagles, who marched to their 6th straight semifinals appearance in the UAAP.
"I think all our effort and the rough schedule was worth it," Valdez said in Filipino upon finding out her team is in the Final Four.
Bea De Leon added 10 points including two blocks and Amy Ahomiro had 9 as Ateneo opened the second round of eliminations strong, winning their third game in the last 7 days.
UP, which was the first team to deal Ateneo a set loss and push them to a 5-setter in their first round encounter, consistently put up a fight in every set but the Lady Eagles always managed to pull away with significant runs midway to cruise the rest of the way.
The Lady Maroons had the best chance to steal a set in the third when they came to within 16-14 after trailing by 6-0 to start. But the Lady Eagles countered with a 5-0 run highlighted by consecutive blocks from Ahomiro to put the game out of reach.
Alisa Buitre topscored for UP with 13 points while Nicole Tiamzon registered 12 markers.
Despite winning a set against perennial contenders La Salle for the first time in 6 seasons during a previous 4-set loss, the Lady Maroons could not capitalize on the silver lining to propel them forward.
The Diliman-based squad crashed to 6th place in the standings at 4-6 after being tied in a 4-way log jam for third place with FEU, NU, and UST.
Libero Denden Lazaro played without difficulty despite limping towards the end of Ateneo's last game over Adamson. She reportedly heard her knee "click," which was confirmed to be general knee pain that needed rest and strengthening.
The veteran defender tallied 7 excellent receptions as Ateneo also limited its errors to just 17. – Rappler.com