MANILA, Philippines — The Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles extended their winning streak to four games after fending off the gutsy University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
In the first showdown between the Katipunan rivals in UAAP Season 80, the Lady Eagles hacked out a 25-20, 25-22, 28-26 triumph.
It was Ateneo’s fourth win in a row since opening their season with back-to-back losses, and gave them some much-needed momentum heading into next Saturday’s showdown against arch-rival and defending champion De La Salle University.
Setter Deanna Wong earned Player of the Game honors after spreading the wealth among the Ateneo spikers, tallying 33 excellent sets in the process.
“UP fought really hard,” said Ateneo middle blocker Bea de Leon, who had nine points in the win. “They fought a lot harder in the third set.”
Ateneo held off the Lady Maroons’ uprising in the first two frames, with Jhoana Maraguinot firing an ace to end the opening set, then converting the kill that denied UP’s comeback attempt in the second.
But it was Ateneo that had to make the rally in the third set, as UP clung to a slim two-point lead almost all the way.
The Lady Eagles’ net defense gave them a 20-18 lead late, before a Kat Tolentino service error and an Isa Molde attack knotted the count. The two squads went back-and-forth from there, but Ateneo reached match point first, thanks to Jules Samonte’s superb kill off after the Lady Maroons gave up a free ball.
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An attack error by Tolentino gave UP its first set point of the game, 26-25, but the Lady Maroons committed back-to-back errors — a long serve by Rose Cailing and a bad hit by skipper Tots Carlos — to give the advantage back to Ateneo, 27-26.
The Lady Eagles completed the win off another attack error by Carlos.
“After two straight losses, we found our way up,” said Wong. “We found the teamwork that we lost in the first two games… We know we’re getting there.”
Jules Samonte led Ateneo with 15 points, and Maraguinot added 11 markers. Ateneo only had a slim 39-36 lead on kills, but received 26 free points thanks to UP’s errors.
Carlos had 20 points on 17 kills to lead UP’s charge, before committing the attack errors down the stretch that doomed their chances. Molde contributed 16 points in the win.
The Lady Maroons lost Jessma Ramos to an ankle sprain in the third set, after she stepped on Ateneo spiker Tolentino’s ankle while going down from a block.
UP dropped to 1-4 in the tournament. The Lady Maroons have lost four straight since winning their season-opener against University of the East.
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