FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Revisiting the La Salle-Ateneo Season 79 Finals

ABS-CBN Sports on Mar 02, 2018 03:52 PM
FLASHBACK: Revisiting the La Salle-Ateneo Season 79 Finals
Look back at the epic Finals clash between La Salle and Ateneo in the season 79 Finals before they rekindle their rivalry this Saturday. (File Photo)

It has been said that in order to move forward, we have to look back.

In an unpredictable UAAP season 80 women's volleyball tournament, all we can do is watch helplessly as teams beat, and get beaten by each other.

While it makes the tournament that much more enjoyable, it also wreaks havoc on some fans' well-being, as they have to endure nail-biting action, wishing, hoping for their squad to come out on top.

So ahead of the fabled Ateneo-La Salle women's volleyball rivalry match this Saturday, let's revisit their Finals showdown last season.

Before we do, however, let's check up on the teams' performance thus far in the current tournament.

La Salle has flounderd in its past three games after its solid start. Conversely, Ateneo has bounced back from its nightmare beginning to conjure up a four-game winning streak coming into the pivotal first round-ending match.

Consider this a flashback to the season 79 championship round, and a lookahead of what to expect in the first round clash between Ateneo and La Salle.


SEASON 79 Finals, Game 1 (May 2, 2017)

The Lady Eagles came into the first game as the number one seed with a 12-2 elimination round record. 

Their only two defeats came at the hands of the Jaja Santiago-led National University Lady Bulldogs, and they have stunned DLSU in each of their two elims matches.

Meanwhile the Lady Spikers wanted nothing but revenge for their previous two defeats to Ateneo, especially after their second round meltdown that saw the Lady Eagles take the match in four sets to clinch the top seed.

Come the first game, Ateneo was hot right off the bat, taking advantage of some DLSU attack errors to win the opening set of the Finals 25-21.

But DLSU fought back, led by season MVP Majoy Baron knowing full well that going down two sets to a dangerous Ateneo squad will be difficult to overcome.

The Lady Spikers powered through a grueling second set, 29-27.

Seemingly rejuvenated after winning the extended set, DLSU was able to capitalize on the shaky Ateneo defense to claim the third set, 25-22, then rallied in the fourth set, 25-20, to claim the match.

Then-graduating setter Kim Fajardo held the squad together with 37 excellent sets, helping DLSU draw first blood in their sixth straight Finals clash, while Tin Tiamzon and Kim Kianna Dy dropped 15 and 14 points respectively to pace the Lady Spikers in scoring.

Jho Maraguinot led the Lady Eagles with 16 points, while Bea De Leon and Michelle Morente chipped in 14 and 11 markers, respectively in the loss.

The win was quite the breakthrough for the Taft Spikers. Aside from being their first victory at the expense of their bitter rivals, it also propelled them one step closer into their second straight championship.


SEASON 79 Finals, Game 2 (May 6, 2017)

Being down 0-1 in the Finals series was enough for Ateneo's "happy heartstrong" mantra to show, as the Lady Eagles easily took the opening set of Game 2, 25-19, highlighted by a thunderous facial by Kat Tolentino on Majoy Baron, and a sweet connection between Jia Morado and Bea De Leon.


The Lady Eagles were ready for a fight.


Come the second set, DLSU started strong behind the duo of KKD and the KAFTain, as they jumped to a commanding 16-6 lead. The season MVP then clamped down on defense, coming up with key blocks to tie the match at one set apiece.


A pivotal third set had all the makings of a classic, and indeed it was.

The teams traded blows, then the duo of Maraguinot and Morente turned it up for Ateneo to ease past the defending champions, taking a 2-1 lead in the match. 


With their backs against the wall, DLSU leaned on eventual Finals MVP Desiree Cheng to force a deciding set. Her steady floor defense and timely hits, as well as KKD's back-to-back spikes late in the set were key in the Lady Spikers taking the fourth set, 25-18.


The stage was set. A race to 15 points. 

The girls in green opened up the final and deciding frame on an 8-3 tear, before the Lady Eagles fought back to trim the deficit to two, 10-8.

Des Cheng came up with a crucial point to stop the bleeding for La Salle. Tiamzon and Baron also came through in the clutch to deliver the finishing blow and to give the Lady Spikers their 10th championship via a 15-10 set 5 win.

More importantly, the Lady Spikers gave their longtime setter Fajardo a fitting farewell. 

Meanwhile Baron, who received equal parts praise, and questioning looks for winning the season MVP award, basked in the glory of the feat they have accomplished.




Catch the Round 1 showdown between the De La Salle Lady Spikers and the Ateneo Lady Eagles on Saturday, March 4 at 4:00 PM live on ABS-CBN S+A channel 23, ABS-CBN S+A HD channel 166, Liga Sky Cable channel 86, Liga HD Sky Cable channel 183 and via livestream at https://sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/uaap.

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