Ateneo de Manila University got the warm up it needed ahead of a bigger match this week, cruising past University of the East (UE), 25-18, 25-12, 25-10, on Sunday in University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The win put the Lady Eagles in a tie with archrival De La Salle University for top spot at 11-2. Both teams will face off on Saturday in a battle for pride and No. 1 ranking in the Final Four round.
Kat Tolentino led Ateneo with 12 points on 11 attacks while Jia Morado and Michelle Morente added nine and eight markers, respectively, for the Lady Eagles of head coach Tai Bundit, who opted to rest his top spiker Jhoana Maraguinot in the game.
“It’s coach Tai’s decision to give her (Maraguinot) a rest. Sometimes, it’s important to have a rest,” said Ateneo assistant coach Sherwin Meneses, adding that the team will still go all out against the Lady Archers.
Morado had all of the team’s 26 excellent sets in the match where Bundit decided to give his other players some valuable minutes. Seldom-used Pauline Gaston and Jules Samonte contributed for a combined five points in the victory.
“We want to rack up every win we can. We have to give confidence to other players coming to our game against La Salle because we don’t rely on one person. It’s always teamwork will help us win,” said Morado.
“Hopefully we can bring this (confidence) on Saturday. La Salle will prepare for us,” she added.
No UE player hit double figures with Mary Anne Mendoza leading the Recto-based squad with six markers. The Lady Warriors, who played minus head coach Francis Vicente and were handled by assistant Lerma Giron, dropped to 1-12.
In the men’s side, Adamson University delayed the Final Four entry of University of Santo Tomas (UST) with a stunning 25-23, 25-19, 25-17 victory.
Already out of the semifinal race, the Soaring Falcons played the spoilers’ role against the Growling Tigers, whose loss gave University of the Philippines a glimmer of hope for the last Final Four seat.
The win put Adamson with a tie with De La Salle University at 4-9 and denied UST of completing the Final Four picture. The Espana-based squad dropped to fourth with 6-7 while trailing one game behind are the Fighting Maroons (5-8).
Meanwhile, National University (NU) flexed its muscles against University of the East (UE), 25-15, 25-15, 25-18, to warm up for its much-anticipated duel against league-leading Ateneo.
It was the Bulldogs’ 11 straight win to improve to 12-1, trailing the Bulldogs (13-0) by one game. The Red Warriors absorbed their fifth straight defeat to go down deeper in the standings with 1-12.