WHAT was expected to be a tight match turned out to be a walk in the park for Ateneo as the UAAP champion Lady Eagles drubbed the National University Lady Bulldogs, 25-19, 25-13, 25-21, in the opener of the V-League Collegiate Conference finals series on Sunday at The Arena in San Juan.
The Lady Eagles, who were without head coach Tai Bundit, needed only an hour and 18 minutes to complete the demolition and move within a win of the crown.
Alyssa Valdez scored 20 points, while Kim Gequillana added 11 markers for Ateneo.
Myla Pablo scored 11 points, while Lady Bulldogs star Jaja Santiago was limited to seven.
Valdez, the conference Most Valuable Player and first Best Outside Spiker, fired 15 kills, two blocks and three service aces.
Assistant coach Parley Tupaz called the shots for Ateneo, with Bundit on a two-week break to attend a coaching course in Thailand.
Jhoanna Magaruinot scored nine, including the winning point for Ateneo, and second Best Middle Blocker Bea de Leon and Amy Ahomiro combined for 10 points.
“Maganda lang talaga ang gising. We played as a team today. We are really happy inside the court and maganda ang naging resulta ng game,” said Valdez, who bagged her second consecutive MVP award after winning in the Open Conference for PLDT Home Ultera.
NU gave Ateneo a brief scare in the third set, when Pablo led the Lady Bulldogs to a 14-11 lead and held on, 20-18.
But Ateneo scored four straight points to snatch the lead, 22-20, and Maraguinot’s attack and Gequillana’s ace pushed the Lady Eagles to matchpoint.
“Grabe third set,” said Valdez. “Ang NU siyempre hindi naman bibitaw ang kalaban.”
“I’m really proud of my teammates, Kim, Jho, si Zelle (Tan), si Kiwi, si Bea, si Ella, everyone even outside of the court and coaches. Sobra ang support at focus nila kanina nandoon. It’s for my teammates talaga,” she added.
NU played without guest player Dindin Santiago-Manabat, who is in Vietnam playing for Petron in the Asian Club Championship, but will be back for the second match on Sunday.