Posted Feb 16th 2014
Lady Eagles claw UP sans coach
By Anthony Divinagracia Posted Jan 4th 2014
Ateneo de Manila University weathered a storm of comebacks from a University of the Philippines (UP) squad that defied its record to grab its fourth straight victory on Saturday in the 76th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the San Juan Arena.
The Lady Eagles bucked the absence of their new mentor as veteran Alyssa Valdez again came up with another offensive splurge to help Ateneo dispose of the hard-fighting Lady Maroons, 25-20, 25-21, 25-13, and stay behind league-leading De La Salle University.
Valdez knocked in a game-high 24 points built around 20 hits and three aces while Amy Ahomiro added 14 to lead the Lady Eagles who remain tied with National University for second place at 4-1. Newly appointed Ateneo coach Tai Bundit is still in Thailand to attend his duties with the Thai national team.
With Valdez catching fire early on, Ateneo raced to a 14-8 lead in the opening set. But Ateneo relaxed in a jiff, allowing the Lady Maroons to move within 17-20 with three straight points from rookie Kathy Bersola.
Still, the Lady Eagles held on as Valdez and Ahomiro rescued Ateneo from a possible meltdown with a variety of kills to close the first set.
UP again threatened midway through the second frame, 12-16. But the Lady Eagles were hardly fazed as back-up hitter Ella de Jesus and rookie Ana Gopico joined Valdez to keep the Lady Maroons in check.
Yet the Lady Maroons continued to bang on the door and managed to pull within 19-20. Valdez and Ahomiro however walked out of UP’s defensive radar to punish the Lady Maroons anew with a plethora of sharply angled kills and speed shots for a 2-0 set advantage.
Zapping UP’s rallying strength in the first two sets, the Lady Eagles then proceeded to control the third frame with little trouble with an 18-10 lead. Valdez then presided over Ateneo’s endgame assault which yielded six straight points off UP’s defensive lapses to clinch the set for good.
Gopico and fellow newcomer Jia Morado chipped in ten markers apiece for Ateneo, which scored a 48-18 edge over UP in the attacking department.
Bersola tallied 12 points to lead the Lady Maroons, who fell deep in the cellar at 0-5.