Defending champion Ateneo de Manila University exploited the absence of the injured Ara Galang to overpower De La Salle University, 25-18, 25-19, 25-19, in Game 1 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 77 women’s volleyball finals on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Lady Eagles’ Thai head coach Tai Bundit didn’t let the Lady Spikers find their rhythm throughout the game as skipper Alyssa Valdez and the rest of her teammates delivered power-packed kills to move one step closer of retaining the title.
“We have a great game plan and Jia’s [Morado] ball distribution is effective today. Coach Tai also told us to play as a unit. Anyway, there are still lot of things to do and we’re expecting La Salle to get back in Game 2,” Valdez said.
Valdez finished with 22 kills including two blocks and an ace for a game-high 25 points, Michelle Morente and Amy Ahomiro contributed eight and seven points, respectively.
Open hitter Cydthealee Demecillo was the lone La Salle player in double figures with 10 as Galang’s replacement Christine Soyud only had eight points. Veteran Mika Reyes was limited to just four points and Desiree Cheng scored one point.
Unfortunately, another player- Camille Cruz—got injured in the game, hurting her right knee after a bad fall.
On Saturday’s semifinal match against National University, Galang suffered Anterior Cruciate Ligament, Medial Collateral ligament and medial meniscus injuries.
“We are very sad to what happened here in the volleyball community because quality players were getting injured. The players are very strong and brave to get back from the injury,” added Valdez.
Armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage, Ateneo guns for the crown on Saturday in Game 2 of the series at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.