ATENEO dropped a set for the first time season and survived a determined University of the Philippines side for a 25-18, 22-25, 25-20, 15-25, 15-11 win to remain unscathed on Sunday in the UAAP Season 77 women’s volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan City.
With Nicole Tiamzon on fire, the Lady Maroons dragged the Lady Eagles to a deciding set, but the defending champions showed poise when mattered to extend their perfect run to five games.
La Salle, priming up for its much-awaited showdown with Ateneo, easily disposed University of the East, 25-6, 25-16, 25-11, to move closer in sweeping the first round.
It will be the first meeting between the two fiercest rivals in college sports since the Lady Eagles ended the Lady Spikers’ three-year reign last March.
League-leading scorer Ara Galang tossed in 10 points, including five from the service zone, and had six digs, while Mika Reyes also tossed in 10 hits for La Salle, which now sports a 6-0 slate.
The Lady Spikers were dominating in all fronts in the 61-minute match as they outlcassed the winless Lady Warriors in spikes, 27-12, service, 16-1, and blocks, 10-3.
“Maganda lang siguro ang iginalaw ng mga bata. Iba ang aura nila unlike sa last game nila against FEU. Bawat puntos nila, nag-enjoy,” said La Salle mentor Ramil de Jesus.
Ateneo skipper Alyssa Valdez survived all of her game-long struggles, finishing with 25 points, including three blocks and two service aces, while rookie Bea de Leon contributed 12 markers.
“UP played really well, hindi kami agad nakapag-adjust. Yung defense nila, sobrang tiyaga nila, sobrang sipag talaga nila,” the reigning MVP said.
In men’s play, three-peat seeking National University prevailed over UP, 25-20, 25-13, 26-24, to also inch closer in achieving a first round sweep with a 6-0 record.
Angeli Araneta gave the Lady Maroons their first point in the fifth set before Valdez took charge to give the Lady Eagles a 5-2 advantage.
UP kept the game close, threatened at 10-11 after Tiamzon scored off the block before Ateneo moved closer to match point at 14-10 with Jia Morado hitting a service ace sandwiched by an Araneta service fault and an Arianne Ilustre attack error.
Valdez then atoned her error which gave the Lady Maroons a lifeline by closing out the exciting one hour, 52 minute match with a hit in the middle.
The Lady Eagles, narrowly avoiding a first loss against their Katipunan neighbors in seven years, committed a season-high 37 errors.
Tiamzon fired a career-high 22 points, while Kathy Bersola added 12 points, including three blocks and three service aces for UP.