In-form Ateneo Lady Eagles present another daunting challenge to slumping UP
Two teams moving in opposite direction collide as the struggling Lady Maroons take on the streaking Lady Eagles. Jaime Campos

ATENEO faces skidding University of the Philippines to start its campaign in the second round of the UAAP Season 79 women’s volleyball tournament at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.

Riding on a five-game winning run after a 1-1 start, the Lady Eagles are tipped to win the match against the Lady Maroons, who are winless in their past three outings after an impressive 4-0 start.

To make matters worse for UP, graduating libero Princess Gaiser will be out for the remainder of the season after suffering an ACL injury on her left knee.

Ateneo team manager Tony Boy Liao is fully confident with the deeper squad, who have proven that all is well even after the departure of Alyssa Valdez.

“Alyssa left and she’s a [one-woman] scoring machine. Ngayon without Alyssa I’ve been reminding the players that they could cover ‘yung points ni Alyssa,” said the Ateneo official.

Liao is pertaining to Michelle Morente, Jhoana Maraguinot, Bea de Leon and Kat Tolentino.

At the end of the first round Morente, who missed last season due to academic deficiencies, was the fourth leading scorer with a total of 97 points, she also topped the attacking department with an efficiency rate of 41.34 and the third best player to score from the service line with 0.60 average per set.

Meanwhile, Ateneo coach Tai Bundit can always rely on Maraguinot, de Leon and Tolentino.

“So talagang nacocover ang scores ni Alyssa,” said Liao. “Yeah, parang wala ring nawala.”

UP, on the other hand, will try to bounce back and snap an alarming three-game losing slide behind Diana Carlos, who had a total of 105 points at the end of the first round, Isa Molde and Justine Dorog.

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