DEFENDING champion Ateneo dealt National University and former Lady Eagles coach Roger Gorayeb a sound meeting on Sunday in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament at the Arena in San Juan.
The unbeaten Lady Eagles came away with a comprehensive 25-18, 25-21, 25-22 win over NU in their first match against the multi-titled Gorayeb, who was Ateneo coach until 2013.
Gorayeb led the Lady Eagles to back-to-back trips to the finals but the Katipunan-based school didn't win a first UAAP title until Thai coach Tai Bundit inspired a dream run last season.
“Weird na nasa kabilang side siya (Gorayeb) ng court,” said reigning league MVP Alyssa Valdez, who led the way for the Lady Eagles with 20 points.
Amy Ahomiro added 10 points as Ateneo started its campaign in the second round of the eliminations in fine style, running its unbeaten streak to eight games.
For Valdez it was an awkward feeling to see his mentor in her first year on the other side of the fence and not giving orders to them.
Although Gorayeb’s familiarity with his former team was obviously a factor, Valdez felt Bundit’s preparation readied the Lady Eagles for whatever surprises the Lady Bulldogs had in store for them.
“Alam niya (Gorayeb) ‘yung kakayahan namin pero si Coach Tai pine-prepare naman kami lagi,” said Valdez.
Valdez came up with an ace to put Ateneo at match point, 24-21, but it was NU’s Myla Pablo who gifted the Lady Eagles with the win with a service that sailed wide.
Jaja Santiago had 10 quiet points for the Lady Bulldogs, who fell to a 4-4 card in a tie with University of the Philippines for third spot.