Lady Eagles book ticket for eighth straight Final Four stint
Ateneo de Manila secured a Final Four spot.
Ateneo de Manila found Far Eastern University a tough customer in their first round meeting.
The league-leading Lady Eagles again banked on their heartstrong mantra to stave off the Lady Tamaraws in the crucial stretch of the fifth set in a 25-20, 25-22, 17-25, 21-25, 15-8, escape Saturday to collect their eighth straight win and clinch a Final Four berth in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Jho Maraguinot played the hero’s role, pounding in timely hits, to tow Ateneo to a 9-1 win-loss record to pull away from the rest of the field at solo top spot and more importantly book their eighth Final Four stint in a row.
Maraguinot exploded for 23 points from 19 attacks, three aces and a kill block for the Katipunan-based squad, which won their eighth straight head-to-head match against the Lady Tams since Season 76.
Michelle Morente nailed 13 kills in her 15-point game while adding 18 digs and 17 excellent receptions for the Lady Eagles. Bea De Leon finished with 12 markers while Jia Morado had 39 excellent sets on top of her six points for Ateneo.
The Lady Eagles held off the comeback attempt of the Lady Tams in the fifth set when FEU closed a 10-5 gap to 8-10. A service error from Bernadeth Pons started the end for the Lady Tams with De Leon scoring an ace in the closing run that saw FEU commit three errors including back-to-back attacking miscues.
"Laging five sets eh. Buti na lang yung break napunta rin sa amin," said Ateneo assistant coach Sherwin Meneses. "Ok naman 'yung third and fourth (sets) kaso gusto talagang makabawi ng FEU. Talagang maganda ang nilaro ng FEU kaya nag-five sets ulit. Hindi ka pwedeng magpahinga sa FEU grabe ang depensa nila talaga."
Bernadeth Pons scored 19 points, Toni Basas got 14 while Remy Palma finished with 12 for the Lady Tams, who dropped to 5-5 slate.
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