PINT-sized Ella de Jesus played huge for Ateneo, coming up with timely hits as the Lady Eagles tamed the National University Lady Bulldogs, 25-17, 12-25, 31-29, 28-26, on Wednesday to stay alive in the semifinals of the 76th UAAP season women's volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
De Jesus, a 5-foot-1 spiker, came up with 16 points capped by back-to-back hits that sealed the win for the Lady Eagles and set up a do-or-die match with the Lady Bulldogs.
NU has a twice-to-beat advantage for finishing in the No. 2 spot after the elimination round.
Alyssa Valdez had a team high 29 points and rookie Michelle Morente added 12 for the Lady Eagles, the third seeds who had disposed of No. 4 Adamson on Saturday.
La Salle earned an outright finals spot plus a tremendous thrice-to-beat edge for sweeping the 14-game eliminations.
“Gustung-gusto lang talaga naming manalo,” said De Jesus, who was unafraid of the towering defenders. “Noong start ng season wala kaming in-expect, pero ngayon na andito na ibibigay na namin ang lahat.”
The AB Psychology major came up with three consecutive points, including back-to-back service aces, to help Ateneo close in at 13-14 in the fourth set.
NU pulled away, 21-18, but Ateneo retaliated with a 5-2 run behind de Jesus and Valdez that made it 23-all before slowly inching to victory.
"Sobrang saya, hindi lang naman ako (ang nagpanalo) tulung-tulong kaming teammates para manalo," said De Jesus.
Ateneo survived an untidy match where it dropped 42 points on errors, keeping alive its chances for a third straight finals appearance.
Jaja Santiago finished with 17 points, while elder sister Dindin added 13 for NU.