Ateneo Lady Eagles show grit under pressure to beat rival La Salle, seize UAAP lead
Kat Tolentino proves an unlikely heroine for the Lady Eagles. Jaime Campos

ATENEO showed grit under pressure to beat defending champion La Salle, 26-24, 26-24, 21-25, 25-17, in the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday at the MOA Arena.

Michelle Morente and Jhoana Maraguinot carried the fight for the Lady Eagles in the crucial stretches while Kat Tolentino turned out to be an unlikely heroine in the vengeful win against a La Salle team that beat them in last year's finale.

The win enabled Tai Bundit's girls to take the league lead at 6-1 (win-loss) at the end of the first round while dealing the Lady Archers only their second loss in seven games.

A gamble by La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus to turn setter Kim Fajardo into an opposite spiker and rookie Michelle Cob into the playmaker worked as the Lady Spikers came to life in the third set.

But it only served to delay the inevitable.

With Morente and Maraguinot taking over, Ateneo went on a 10-3 run to take the lead, 17-10, before reaching match point on a Morente off-the-block kill and a winner by Bea De Leon.

Duke Ogunsanya’s service ace saved one match point but her own service error handed the Lady Eagles the win.

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