Ateneo withstood Far Eastern U’s early challenge and went on to dominate the Lady Tams with its power game and superb blocking, cruising to a 25-19, 25-14, 25-18 victory and clinching the top seeding in the Final Four of the Shakey’s V-League Season 12 Collegiate Conference at The Arena in San Juan on Saturday.
Bracing for a tough outing against a fancied contender, the Lady Eagles needed just the first half of the opening set to check the Lady Tams and chalk up their sixth straight victory as they moved a win away from completing a sweep of the elims and the quarters of the mid-season tournament of the league presented by PLDT Home Ultera.
Regardless of the outcome of its final game match against National U next Sunday, Ateneo has secured the No. 1 spot in the Final Four and will play the No. 4 squad in the crossover semis of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
“We actually struggled trying to play consistently—in blocking and defense. That’s what we’ve been trying to do all throughout,” said Ateneo skipper and top hitter Alyssa Valdez.
The league’s scoring leader ended up with 15 hits, including 13 on potent attacks that either landed on open spots or simply pierced through the arms of FEU defenders.
But it was Jhoanna Maraguinot who took the game’s top honors with her equally imposing 11-hit game, highlighted by three aces, while Amy Ahomiro chipped in nine points and Bea de Leon and Kim Gequillana added six markers apiece for the reigning UAAP champions who produced five blocks and six aces.
Despite the lost, FEU remained in the magic four with a 4-2 card, leaving NU and UST tied at second at 4-1 with Arellano in fifth at 2-3.
Guest player and former league MVP Jovelyn Gonzaga delivered 11 hits for FEU, which failed to keep the momentum of a hot start and simply fizzled out in the face of the Lady Eagles’ strong fightback midway through the opening frame.
The Loyola-based squad sustained their attack in the second and built a big cushion in the third to hold off FEU’s desperate attempt for a comeback.
Arellano U kept its flickering semis hopes alive as it waylaid also-ran La Salle Dasmariñas, 25-20, 25-17, 25-15, in the other game.
The Lady Chiefs remained at fifth with a 3-3 card and must hurdle their last game against the St. Benilde Blazers, another ousted team, next Saturday and hope that any from UST, NU or FEU won’t go over four wins to force a playoff for the last semis berth.
Menchie Tubiera unloaded a 13-hit game for the reigning NCAA champions, who also drew a combined 23-point output from Danna Henson, Shirley Salamagos and skipper Christine Rosario.
The Lady Patriots, led by Mariebeth Lara and Cherry Nunag’s identical eight points, slid to 1-5.
Meanwhile, National U tries to prime up for its much awaited duel with Ateneo next week as it battles equally tough UST at resumption today (Sunday) of quarterfinals action in the league where it all started.
The Lady Bulldogs and the Tigresses, tied for second at 4-1, actually dispute the No. 2 spot in the semis but it will be more like a preparation for the former who are out to stop the Lady Eagles from completing a sweep heading to the semis.
The NU-UST clash will be shown live on GMA News TV Channel 11 although the matches, including the 3 p.m. duel between also-ran St. Benilde and UP, can also be viewed live via streaming on www.v-league.ph, according to the organizing Sports Vision.