Ateneo showed it can dominate a full field by edging past University of Santo Tomas, 25-19, 25-14, 17-25, 20-25, 15-13, to claim the Shakey’s V-League Season 9 First Conference crown on Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Looking to dispel talks downplaying their previous title conquest because it was won over a field missing powerhouse UST, the Eagles made a strong statement by winning the title series over the Tigresses 2-1.
It was the second V-League crown for the Lady Eagles, who won last year’s first conference when the Tigresses were on leave.
“Napanalunan na namin yung championship kaya masaya na kami. Masarap na panalo ito kasi mahirap yung naging laro,” said Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb.
Alyssa Valdez led the Lady Eagles with 22 points while Thai guest player Phee Nok Kesinee added 15 and Dzi Gervacio chipped in 12 including the championship-clinching point.
But it was the Lady Eagles' poise that spelled the difference.
Despite what seemed to be a comfortable 12-7 lead in the fifth set, the Lady Eagles found themselves in a precarious position wat 13-all after back-to-back kills by UST’s Judy Caballejo.
The Lady Eagles reversed the tide and launched a rally that led to a shot by Caballejo sailing out to send the game to match point. Gervacio smashed the ball in front of the net after UST couldn’t control the ball to end the game.
After Ateneo dominated early, UST won the third set thanks to the bench support led by setter Loren Lantin. With the momentum shifting, the Tigresses equalized in the fourth with timely scores from Maika Ortiz.
Ortiz had 18 points, Judy Caballejo added 17 points and Utaiwan Kaensing finished with 16 points for the Tigresses, who failed in their bid to capture the title in their return to the league after skipping the previous three conferences.