Games Wednesday (semis)
4 p.m. – NU vs UP
6 p.m. – Ateneo vs FEU
Ateneo rode on the momentum of its playoff romp over San Sebastian as it shocked top seed Far Eastern U, 25-14, 28-26, 25-22, Monday at the Philsports Arena to move closer to the Shakey’s V-League Collegiate Conference Finals in the post Alyssa Valdez-era.
The Lady Eagles dished out a superb all-around game all throughout, coming up with solid spikes, big digs and saves while pouncing on Bernadeth Pons’ sidelining to dominate the opening frame then came back from 21-24 down in the second to steal the set before stamping their class in the third to take the opener of their best-of-three semis series in the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
The win avenged Ateneo’s three-set loss to FEU in the last quarterfinals playdate that dropped the two-time champion Lady Eagles to a playoff for the last semis seat with the Lady Stags, whom they smothered in three last Saturday.
The Loyola-based spikers sustained their form in their return bout with the Lady Tams while cashing in on Pons’ absence to pound out the victory.
Pons, who scored 10 hits in FEU’s win over Ateneo last week, was supposed to help anchor the team’s bid but sprained her left ankle during warm-up and failed to see action.
Skipper Michelle Morente and Bea de Leon came away with 13 hits apiece while Kim Gequillna and Ana Gopico backed them up with 12 and 11 points, respectively, as the Lady Eagles continued to buck the odds following the graduation of Valdez, who anchored the team’s back-to-back title romp in 2011-12 editions of the country’s premier women’s volley league backed by Mikasa as official ball and Accel as official outfitter.
“I gave it my best shot and we just did what we do in training,” said Morante
Without Pons, the Lady Tams struggled in their offense while failing to neutralize the Lady Eagles’ attack with sloppy reception and a series of miscues, enabling Ateneo to dominate the first set.
FEU looked poised to evening things up when it surged to a 24-21 lead in the second but succumbed to Ateneo’s strong fightback and yielded the set. The Lady Tams tried to strike back in the third but lost steam while the Lady Eagles unleashed another strong finish kick.
National U blew a three-point lead in the fourth set but fought back from two down in the stretch to hack out a thrilling 25-23, 25-23, 23-25, 26-24, victory over University of the Philippines in their side of the Final Four.
Jaja Santiago, Jorelle Singh and Aiko Urdas came through with key hits in the clutch to rally the Lady Bulldogs past the Lady Maroons in a tightly-fought fourth set duel and clinch the win that likewise moved the defending champions a win away from the finals.