ATENEO survived a hard-fought battle against university of Santo Tomas, 25-15, 23-25, 25-22, 20-25, 13-15, to notch a fifth straight win in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Wednesday at The Arena in San Juan.
Alyssa Valdez single-handedly carried the Lady Eagles on her shoulders as she poured in 28 points, the best output this season of the third-year player from Batangas.
Ateneo recovered from a poor start that saw it yield a set for the first time since losing its season-opener against National University, and improved to 5-1 overall going to its highly-awaited showdown with defending champion and rival De La Salle on Sunday.
Following the tough win, Ateneo assistant coach Parley Tupaz had nothing but praises for UST’s performance.
“Ang dami kasi naming errors, tapos maganda pa ang laro ng UST, na-check nila si Alyssa," said Tupaz, whose Lady Eagles gave away 35 points from miscues to the 32 of the Lady Tigresses.
From a tied 12-all contest in the deciding set, the Katipunan-based squad summoned all its remaining strength and outscored UST, 3-1, behind Valdez, Ella de Jesus, and A Ahomiro for the hard-earned win.
Rookie Ana Gopico and Marge Tejada each added eight markers for Ateneo which is currently tied with National University at second and third spots.
For Tupaz, the thrilling win should serve the Lady Eagles well in their showdown against the Lady Spikers, who are currently on top of the standings with a clean 6-0 slate.
"Mataas ang morale namin ngayon bago namin kalabanin ang La Salle sa Linggo," said Tupaz.
UST had a strong start as it came through with a 7-1 run to take a 14-5 lead and win the opening set.
The Lady Eagles evened the match after a close contest in the second.
But the Lady Tigresses held the fort, scoring the last four points of the third set to win, 25-22.
Ateneo regained control in the fourth behind a 7-1 run for a commanding 22-12 lead. But UST threatened at 19-23, before the Lady Eagles proved steadier in the stretch to extend the match to a deciding set.
Pamela Lastimosa had a career high 23 points, from 17 spikes, five blocks and one service ace in a losing cause for UST, which fell to 2-4.