KAT Tolentino stepped up big time and nailed the match-winning hit as Ateneo completed a comeback to escape FEU, 14-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-18, 15-12, for its second straight win in UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament on Sunday at the Arena in San Juan City.
The Lady Eagles erased a two-set deficit, getting their acts together in the third and fourth frames to force a decider, where FEU and Ateneo figured in neck-and-neck duel in front of a growling capacity crowd.
Ateneo went down, 11-12, in the fifth set but easily escaped as FEU committed three straight errors before Tolentino nailed the spike that carried the Lady Eagles to their second straight win in three games tying UST and UP from the second to fourth places.
Tolentino bucked a bad start that saw her score only two points heading to the third set until she caught fire when it mattered most to lead Ateneo’s comeback and finish with 19 points built on 17 spikes and two blocks.
Maddie Madayag nailed 12 attacks for 14 points. Ponggay Gaston had nine points to go with 18 excellent receptions and 16 digs, while Jules Samonte added seven markers including 17 digs and 12 receptions. Setter Deanna Wong was also instrumental with 26 excellent sets and eight markers from three service aces.
“It's really the faith. I just asked them to keep the faith, believe that it will be given to them. We're down and we don't know what to do already. Our legs are not working, our minds are not working,” Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro said.
“Nagtiwala sila sa sarili nila, and the skills came out. Naka-receive kami, naka-serve kami, nakaatake kami. Unti-unti, lumabas ang resiliency ng mga bata. Nag-pay off naman ang faith nila sa isa't isa at faith kay Lord.”
Ateneo will have one-week break before eyeing its third win against University of the East (0-2) next Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
FEU had a chance to take down Ateneo in three sets but it failed to close out the match as the Lady Eagles unleashed a strong come back.
The Lady Tams committed 38 errors in the game — seven miscues in the fifth set with the last three coming from Celine Domingo’s overcooked hit before setter Kyle Negrito had a miscommunication in setting the ball to Domingo and failed to the dig on the next possession.
Heather Guino-o led FEU with 16 points to go with nine excellent receptions, Jerrili Malabanan and Domingo had 13 points each, Lycha Ebon and Jeanette Villareal added eight hits each, while Negrito made 28 excellent sets, 16 digs and seven points only for their team to suffer their second straight loss in three games crashing down at sixth place.
FEU tries to recover against UST (2-1) on Saturday also at the Big Dome.