ATENEO De Manila sealed a dream rematch with long-time rival La Salle for the 75th UAAP women’s volleyball championship after the Blue Eagles leaned on Alyssa Valdez in disposing Adamson University in straight sets, 25-23, 25-23, 26-24, during their Final Four encounter Saturday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The two-time defending champion Lady Archers earlier made the Finals for the fifth straight year by eliminating National University, 25-18, 25-23, 25-18, in the other semifinals encounter.
The two rival schools now battle for all the marbles beginning next Saturday when Game 1 of the best-of-three title series is played also at the Big Dome.
The Lady Archers beat the Lady Eagles, 2-1, in last year’s championship series, giving the Valdez and the rest of the team enough motivation in their second straight trip to the Finals.
“Sobrang gusto namin makapasok ng Finals,” said Valdez, who finished with 22 points from 20 spikes and two blocks.
Trailing by four in the third set, 19-23, Ateneo came through with a 4-1 run, capped by Valdez’s back-to-back frontline hits to tie the game at 23-23.
The native of Batangas led the Lady Eagles to match point with another kill, before denying Faye Guevarra’s hit that clinch the win for the Katipunan-based school before a crowd of 12,274.
“Yung puso at eagerness naming makapasok ng Finals ang naging key namin para manalo,” added Valdez.
Graduating player Dzi Gervacio had 10 markers for Ateneo from nine attacks and one service ace.
Along with Gervacio, Gretchen Ho, Fille Cainglet, Jem Ferrer, and Bea Tan are playing their final season with the Lady Eagles.
“Naka-set sa mind namin na naghihirap kami sa training namin. Lagi namin sinasabi na para ito sa seniors namin,” said Valdez.
Team captain Pau Soriano, who played her final game with Adamson, finished with 17 points, while Shiela Pineda and Mayeth Zapanta chipped in nine markers apiece.