DEFENDING champion La Salle beat arch-rival Ateneo, 21-25, 29-27, 25-22, 25-20, on Tuesday to move a win away from back-to-back UAAP women’s volleyball tournament championships.
The Lady Spikers battled back from a 15-18 deficit in the fourth set, scoring six unanswered points to take a 24-19 lead before a roaring sea of green and blue at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Michelle Morente saved one match point but last year’s Finals MVP Kim Dy scored in the next play to clinch La Salle's first win against Ateneo this season.
The Lady Spikers can wrap up a second successive league title in Game Two on Saturday.
Ernestine Tiamzon finished with 15 points, Kim Dy added 14 while Desiree Cheng and skipper Kim Fajardo added 10 apiece as La Salle hardly showed any rust after a prolonged pre-finals break.
“Actually sa training, pag nagre-review kami ng game nakikita namin ang difference ng bawat team, kaya naghabol kami sa depensa kasi very aggressive ang Ateneo,” said La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus.
La Salle was out of sync in the first set and lagged behind in the second until Fajardo restored order to lead it back from a 18-22 deficit.
The fifth-year setter dished out 37 of the team’s 40 excellent sets, while coming up with seven of La Salle’s 11 service aces, and 10 digs to earn MVP of the Game honors.
“Isa na rin ‘yun, mas gusto niya manalo, ‘yung pagiging leader niya lumabas and sinundan siya ng teammates niya,” said de Jesus.
“Iba ‘yung talent niya na ‘yun, kung gusto kaya niyang gawin and confident siya kaya hayaan ko na lang,” he added.
Jhoana Maraguinot topscored with 16 points for Ateneo, while Bea de Leon added 14 and Morente had 11.