DESIREE Cheng delivered the killer blows in the fourth set as defending champion La Salle defeated Ateneo, 25-14, 25-17, 16-25, 25-19, to open the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament on a high note in on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Spikers, eyeing a fourth straight title, also got a boost from May Luna and rookie Jolina Dela Cruz in taking the big opening win in front of a crowd of 17,166.
Cheng had 13 points off eight spikes, three service aces and two blocks, while registering 14 excellent receptions and nine digs.
Dela Cruz and Luna had 11 points apiece, Aduke Ogunsanya had 10 points, while setter Michelle Cobb dished out 29 excellent sets and had eight markers.
Libero CJ Saga had 18 digs and 14 excellent receptions.
“Before the game, parang ni-remind ko yung team na this game, win or lose, hindi ito yung magde-define sa amin,” Cheng said. “We just need to work harder.”
It was a fine performance for Ramil de Jesus' squad, which did not play in a preseason tournament.
“Hindi naman madaling kalaban ang Ateneo. It's the first game, naging pabor lang sa amin yung lahat ng situation, kaya siguro kami na nanalo,” said De Jesus.
Kat Tolentino had 16 points and 10 digs, Bea De Leon scored eight and Jules Samonte added seven for Ateneo.
La Salle next faces Adamson, which lost to UST in its opening match, on Saturday. The Lady Eagles try to bounce back against UST on Wednesday.