ALYSSA Valdez took over in the final set as Ateneo beat arch-rival La Salle, 21-25, 25-22, 25-16, 21-25, 15-5, on Sunday to clinch the top seeding entering the UAAP Season 78 women's volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Valdez took over late in a five-set thriller that took nearly three hours to finish, delivering the points when the Lady Eagles recovered from a fourth-set hiccup to put the win away with plenty to spare.
By avenging a 22-25, 14-25, 18-25 loss to La Salle in the first round, Ateneo took the No. 1 spot in the Final Four with a 12-2 win-loss record while La Salle slipped to second spot at 10-3 with a match still to play.
“I think when I saw my teammates super sa eyes nila they’re inspired to play, they really wanna play today so kung ikaw ganoon ’yung teammates mo you’re gonna do your best also,” she said.
Valdez led all scorers with 24 points on 20 spikes, one block and three service aces, while sophomores Jhoana Maraguinot and Bea de Leon combined for 27 markers.
Jia Morado registered all of Ateneo’s 62 excellent sets, while libero Gizelle Tan had 16 digs and 14 excellent receptions.
“Syempre its really a bonus for us being on top after the eliminations,” said Valdez. “Pero being on the top madami rin responsibilities so kailangan din namin mag-work hard pa para ma-maintain na nandoon kami sa taas.”
Ara Galang scored 20 points, while Joy Baron chipped in 15 for La Salle.
Cyd Demecillo returned to her natural position of outside hitter after playing libero, scoring 12 points, while Dy contributed 11 for La Salle, which gave away 37 points though errors.