Ateneo Lady Eagles one win away from sweep, outright finals berth after easy win over lowly UE Lady Warriors
Alyssa Valdez and the Ateneo Lady Eagles score their 13th win in as many outings and now prepare for a tough final elimination-round match against La Salle. Freddie Dionisio

ATENEO kept its record unblemished with a 25-22, 25-17, 26-24 win over University of the East in a battle of unbeaten leader and winless cellar-dweller on Sunday in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.

The Lady Eagles scored their 13th win in as many matches and are now just one win away from a sweep and an outright finals berth with a thrice-to-beat advantage.

Getting the 14th win will be tough, however, as they face a La Salle squad that they narrowly defeated in five sets in the first round.

[See Talismanic Alyssa Valdez leads from front as Ateneo Lady Eagles beat La Salle in five-set thriller

“Ang midset kasi talaga ng team is one game at a time lang,” said Ateneo skipper Alyssa Valdez. “Hindi naman namin ine-expect na magiging ganito kabilis ang second round iniisip muna namin ang last game namin at hindi na muna ’yung mga kasunod.”

Ateneo looked set for a quick win, but was dragged by UE into a tough third set that lasted 29 minutes.

The Lady Warriors scored the first six points of the set, and the gap widened to 20-9 but simply lacked the finishing kick as the Lady Eagles mounted a rally.

Ateneo came up with a 9-1 rally to trim down the deficit, 18-21, and eventually won after trading points.

Valdez said she didn’t notice UE had zoomed to an 11 point lead.

“Grabe, 20-9?” she asked, but quickly noted it wasn’t surprising for a UE team that was playing solid defense.

“Ang ganda ng defense ng UE, ’yung coverage nila, ’yung blocking nila super ganda,” she said.

Angelica Dacaymat committed two untimely errors that gave Ateneo a chance to inch closer, 21-23, Ella de Jesus had her own miscue that positioned UE at set point, 24-21, but the Lady Eagles simply would not back down.

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De Jesus came up with a power hit, while Ahomiro scored back-to-back quick attacks to tie the match 24-all, Bien Juanillo tipped the ball too low at the net to hand Ateneo match point and Ahomiro again made her presence at the net felt when she blocked Dacaymat for the win.

“As a team captain kasi I’m really happy sa teammates ko na nakikita ko na hindi sila naggi-give up. ’Yung mantra na naman ni coach Tai (Bundit) na heartstrong sasabihin na naman niya,” she added.

Valdez finished with 14 points for Ateneo, while De Jesus and Amy Ahomiro had 10 markers apiece.

Shaya Adorador led all scorers with 17 for UE, which remained winless in 13 matches.

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