ALYSSA Valdez poured in a season-high 30 points as Ateneo survived Adamson in five grueling sets, 25-21, 17-25, 25-14, 22-25, 15-10, to move a win closer of clinching a Final Four spot in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday.
The reigning league MVP recovered from a series of errors at the start of the deciding set by delivering the match point on a spike for the defending champions, who remained unbeaten in nine games.
Ella De Jesus and Amy Ahomiro added 12 points apiece for the Lady Eagles.
After forcing a decisive fifth set, Adamson appeared ready to sustain the momentum when it took an early 4-2 lead on Mylene Paat’s back-to-back service aces.
But the Lady Eagles were quick to retaliate behind three unanswered points capped by Julia Morado’s two consecutive service aces for a 5-4 edge.
De Jesus later delivered the goods for the Lady Eagles when Valdez was at the back row as the pint-sized player exchanged points with Jessica Galanza, Amanda Villanueva, and Paat to keep Adamson at bay, 11-10.
Ahomiro then sparked a short 4-0 Ateneo run to clinch the match that lasted two hours and nine minutes.
“They (Adamson) always give us a good fight,” said Valdez. “Since nag-start ako sa collegiate career ko ‘yung defense talaga nila superb, and pinakita nila ‘yun today. Pinapakita lang nila na sobrang galing nila kagaya noong days na andoon pa sina (Lizlee) Gata.
“May mga days na off talaga (kami) and today totally wala talaga kaming communication and ‘yung Adamson nag-enjoy lang talaga sila. They love to play against us and they really did well,” added the Ateneo star player.
Another win for the Katipunan-based school meant a sixth straight Final Four appearance.
Team manager Tony Liao, however, is not looking too far ahead amid talk of a possible 14-game sweep of the elimination.
“Hindi namin iniisip ang 14-0 sweep. Ang importante Final Four,” said Liao. “Kung maka-sweep bonus na lang may thrice-to-beat (advantage sa Finals).”
Ateneo has so far survived three five-setters this season against University of the Philippines (25-18, 22-25, 25-20, 15-25, 15-11) and arch-rival and last year’s runner-up La Salle (25-22, 25-27, 16-25, 25-14, 15-9).
Jessica Galanza finished with 17 points for Adamson, while Amanda Villanueva and Mylene Paat chipped in 16 and 15 markers, respectively.
The Lady Falcons dropped to 3-6 overall and absorbed its fourth consecutive loss for the season.