Lady Eagles land sixth straight Finals appearance
Mark Escarlote on Apr 23, 2017 06:31 PM
Ateneo de Manila returns to the Finals for the sixth straight season.
Jho Maraguinot announced her return with an explosive performance to lead Ateneo de Manila back in the Finals for the sixth straight year.
After a hiccup in the third set, the Lady Eagles staved off the repeated comeback attempts of Far Eastern University in the fourth to send the Lady Tamaraws packing, 25-22, 25-10, 16-25, 26-24, Sunday in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Final Four at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Katipunan-based squad forged a sixth straight championship appearance against archrival defending champion De La Salle University. The best-of-three Finals series starts April 29.
Maraguinot, who skipped the Lady Eagles’ last two games because of a nagging right knee injury, made her presence felt early after scoring Ateneo’s first two points that set the tone for the lopsided first two sets.
But Ateneo found FEU, which they defeated in five sets in both meetings in the elimination round, a tough customer as the Lady Tams claimed the third set and gave the Lady Eagles a scare in the fourth.
FEU rallied from a 4-10 deficit in the fourth frame with a telling run to tie the set at 23. Jeanette Villareal gave the Lady Tams a taste of the lead, 24-23, before Anna Gopico tied it at 24.
Heather Guino-o committed an attack error, hitting the net, in the next play before Ateneo hitter Michelle Morente, who was forced to sit out last year because of academic problems, played the hero's role with the championship berth-clinching off the block hammer.
Morente smashed 12 spikes to finish with 16 points while adding 15 digs and six receptions for the Katipunan-based squad. Maraguinot had 14 markers anchored on 11 kills and three aces while Bea De Leon had three blocks in her 12-point performance for Ateneo.
Ateneo playmaker Jia Morado tallied 51 excellent sets with five points.
FEU tried to give the Lady Tams hopeful some moments to celebrate in the third set to ease some of the pain brought by the embarrassment they had in the first two frames.
With graduating player Remy Palma and hitters Bernadeth Pons and Toni Rose Basas on the lead, FEU built a huge gap midway in the frame, 22-14, before closing the set with a 3-2 spurt in the frame that saw Ateneo throw away 11 points off errors.
Pons scored 14 points - all from attacks - while Palma ended her collegiate career with 12 markers collected from nine spikes and three aces for FEU, which had 31 errors.
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