Ateneo de Manila University outlasted defending champion De La Salle University, 25-21, 25-23, 18-25, 16-25, 17-15, to force a rubber match in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 76 women’s volleyball finals at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Reining Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez powered the Lady Eagles with 22 points while middle hitter Amy Ahomiro and utility spiker Michelle Morente backstopped her with 18 points each.
“We just played happy. We have teamwork, everybody played well. It’s a team effort. Everybody contributed in defense, offense, coverage. We just instilled the ‘heart strong’ tagline of the team,” said Valdez.
“La Salle is a strong team. We know their capabilities. They’re more experienced than us. In the third and fourth sets, we were a bit tentative. But we’re happy that we were able to get our groove back in the fifth set,” she added.
Playmaker Julia Morado also had an impressive showing with 48 excellent sets so as libero Denden Lazaro who had 24 digs and 15 successful ball receives.
“I just told them in the fifth set that if you believe you can win, you will win,” said Ateneo head coach Thai Anusorn Bundit.
The Lady Archers, on the other hand, got 28 points from last year’s co-MVP Ara Galang, 12 points from Cydthealee Demecillo and 11 from Mika Reyes. Skipper Aby Marano added just eight points.
Ateneo took Game 1, 17-25, 25-23, 25-13, 25-20, while La Salle bounced back in Game 2 with a 25-14, 25-20, 19-25, 26-24 win.
The winner-take-all match is scheduled on Saturday at the MOA Arena.