Shining in the most crucial points of the match, the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles earned a classic victory over perennial rivals De La Salle University Lady Spikers, 26-24, 26-24, 21-25, 25-17, to claim solo first after the first round of UAAP Season 79 at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The first two sets saw frantic comebacks from last season’s bridesmaids. La Salle middle hitter Majoy Baron put on a dominant first set, placing her Lady Spikers in a prime position to take the lead, 23-21, after a block kill. From there the first Ateneo storm brewed, starting with a Kim Fajardo service error that sprouted into miscues on serve receives in the following points. The Lady Eagles wound up taking the set via a 5-1 run capped by a La Salle attack error.
As if on cue, the Lady Spikers again faltered when they were in optimal position in the second frame. Holding a 23-20 advantage, the Lady Spikers again surrendered a quick run, giving up six of the last seven points of the set to fall behind by two sets.
“That was pretty crazy. We really just communicated. We settled down and focused on getting every point,” said Ateneo middle hitter Bea De Leon. “Jia [Morado], our captain, does a great job of reminding us of our roles.”
The Lady Spikers salvaged a third set win after making adjustments to their open hitter lineup. But La Salle ran out of gas in the fourth frame, succumbing to a 8-2 mid-set run that pushed Ateneo ahead 17-10 and let them clinch the match.
Michelle Morente, who had missed last season when Ateneo lost to La Salle, poured in a game-high 25 points, highlighting a triple-double that included 19 digs and 12 excellent receptions. First-year open hitter Kat Tolentino added 18.
“It was really a team effort from us. We’re lucky to have coaches that know what to say during certain situations,” said Morente.
Ateneo finish the first round with a 6-1 record while La Salle has momentary hold on second place at 5-2.
Four Lady Spikers scored in double-digits, led by Kianna Dy who tallied 15 markers and Baron who added 14.
Although La Salle produced more points off their scoring skills, they surrendered 31 errors to Ateneo’s 21.
ADMU (3) – Morente 25, Tolentino 18, De Leon 9, Maraguinot 5, Madayag 4, Gequillana 1, Gopico 1, Tan (L)
DLSU (1) – Dy 15, Baron 14, Ogunsanya 12, Fajardo 10, Luna 8, Cheng 5, Tiamzon 5, Cobb 0, Ipac 0, Layug 0, Saga 0, Macandili (L)