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Valdez drops 36 as Ateneo slips past La Salle in Battle of the Rivals

Valdez drops 36 as Ateneo slips past La Salle in Battle of the Rivals

Built up as a rekindling of a celebrated rivalry, the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles revived their magic from UAAP Seasons 76 and 77 to muster a come-from-behind win over the De La Salle University Lady Spikers, 17-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-21, 15-13, in the Battle of the Rivals, Sunday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the respective schools’ scholarship programs.

In front of 13,648 screaming fans in the Mall of Asia Arena, the storied rivals hacked out a classic.

Thanks to contributions from two-time UAAP champion Paneng Mercado and three-time UAAP titlist Ara Galang, the Lady Spikers surged ahead in the first two sets.

The Lady Eagles, however, picked up their reception and defensive effort in the following sets, rejuvenating their tepid crowd. Three-time UAAP MVP Alyssa Valdez linked up with decorated teammates Jia Morado, Ella De Jesus, and Denden Lazaro, to anchor Ateneo’s comeback.

Dragged to a fifth set, the 10-time champions La Salle took charge first and took a 3-2 lead after a wrong server error. The Lady Eagles rallied at the end of the match behind, tying the match at 10. La Salle scored their last point off a running hit from Aby Maraño. The Ateneo storm came after. The Lady Eagles scored the next four points after La Salle struggled to pass. Valdez then capped the match with an off-the-block hit.

“It was a great experience for us. We really just wanted to give the fans a great show kasi they showed great support for us din and the charities,” said Valdez, who topped all scorers with 36 points.

One-time UAAP Best Setter Jia Morado was named Best Ateneo Player with 58 excellent sets and five points, while Aby Maraño took home the best La Salle player trophy with 16 points off 10 attacks, three blocks, and three aces.

The Scores

Ateneo (3) – Valdez 36, De Jesus 11, Maraguinot 7, Ahomiro 6, De Leon 6, Morado 5, Cayetano 1, Morente 0, Lazaro (L)

La Salle (2) – Maraño 16, Galang 16, Mercado 13, Reyes 11, Gumabao 9, Fajardo 4, Demecillo 1, Cruz 0, Saet 0, Gohing (L)

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