KAT Tolentino and Faith Nisperos formed a dynamic duo as Ateneo dominated University of the Philippines, 25-13, 25-17, 25-23, to start its UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball title defense on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Tolentino and Nisperos were impressive in their first team-up, combining for 25 points to kick-off the Lady Eagles’ title-retention bid on a high note.
Graduating opposite hitter Tolentino topscored with 15 points built on 12 kills and three blocks, while Nisperos, the rookie sensation out of Nazareth School of National University, finished with 10 markers in her debut.
Middle blocker Jules Samonte also did a tremendous job with 10 points off five spikes, three blocks and two aces, while team captain Ponggay Gaston added six markers to fill in the void left by former stars Bea De Leon and Maddie Madayag.
“Malaking bagay ito para sa amin, to win the first game of the season but we will not stop here, one game will not determine our character,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro.
Sophomore Jaja Maraguinot ably distributed the offensive wealth with 11 excellent sets as the Lady Eagles pounded the Lady Maroons with a 37-24 edge in attacking.
After two lopsided sets, the Fighting Maroons finally put up a semblance of a fight in the third frame behind Isa Molde and Tots Carlos, fighting off two match points at 21-24 through Marist Layug’s hit and a Nisperos attack error.
However, setter Rem Cailing’s service error put an anti-climactic end to the comeback.
Carlos led the way with 11 points while Molde had nine points and seven digs for UP, which was weighed down by 29 errors.