Ateneo Lady Eagles continue to rise, send Air Force crashing back to earth
Alyssa Valdez of Ateneo hammers the ball from a tough angle past Maika Ortiz and Rhea Dimaculangan of Air Force. Jerome Ascano

AN undermanned Ateneo side brought Air Force back to earth, pulling off a tough, 25-21, 22-25, 17-25, 25-19, 15-9, on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Shakey's V-League Season 11 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan.

As the Lady Eagles continued their rise with a second straight win, the Air Women went crashing down after entering the match on a high from a big win over arch nemesis Army.

Only eight players suited up for Ateneo, with Madeleine Madayag, Therese Gaston and Gizelle Tan all missing the match due to illnesses.

But that was enough to withstand Air Force as Ateneo scored the final seven points to seal the win and improve their win-loss record to 2-5. The Air Women have an even 4-4 card.

Team captain and UAAP MVP Alyssa Valdez led all scorers with 29 points, Amy Ahomiro and Kim Gequillana each scored 15, and Bea de Leon chipped in with 11.

It was a big follow-up to Ateneo's win over league-leading PLDT four days ago.

“Nag-enjoy lang talaga kami, kahit wala kaming proper training kasi may sakit ’yung iba, ’yung heart strong na mindset at ’yung never give up attitude ang nagdala sa amin," said the 21-year old Valdez.

Down by one, 8-9, in the fifth and final set, Ahomiro and Valdez worked together for three straight points that made it 12-9.

The Lady Eagles earned two more points from Air Force spiker Joy Cases, who committed untimely errors, before Ahomiro blocked Cases at the net to hand Ateneo the win.

Ateneo, however, gave the Air Force 32 points through errors.

Maika Ortiz came up with 20 points for Air Force, Cases had 15 and Judy Ann Caballejo scored 12.

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