UAAP Season 81 Final Four: Ateneo sends FEU packing, sets first Finals showdown vs. UST

Mark Escarlote on May 08, 2019 05:46 PM
Ateneo sends FEU packing, sets first Finals showdown vs. UST
Ateneo de Manila University made its return to the Finals to face University of Sto. Tomas.

Ateneo de Manila University finished off Far Eastern University, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 25-14, on Wednesday in their the rubber match for the last championship berth in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball Final Four at the jam-packed FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.

The Lady Eagles set up a historic first best-of-three championship date with University of Sto. Tomas since joining the league in 1978.

Game 1 of the Finals is on Saturday at the Araneta Coliseum.

Ateneo exacted revenge on the same team that booted the Lady Eagles out of the Final Four last year and snapped their six straight Finals appearances.   

Ateneo broke the backs of the Lady Tamaraws with a pivotal win in the third set before opening the floodgates in the fourth as they buried FEU early with a 10 point advantage.

The Lady Tams forced the deciding match after surviving a five-set thriller last Saturday.   

Ateneo rode the crest of its morale-boosting third set win as the Lady Eagles raced to a 14-4 lead. FEU mounted a comeback to move within five, 16-11, but the Lady Eagles were already smelling blood as the Lady Tams crumbled under Ateneo’s 9-3 closing blitz capped by Kat Tolentino’s down the line kill.

Tolentino finished 19 points off 17 kills and two kill blocks for the Katipunan-based squad.  Graduating middle Maddie Madayag and Ponggay Gaston added 12 markers each while Bea De Leon had nine markers for the Lady Eagles, who showed their dominance at the net with 12 kill blocks.

“Sobrang mas mahirap pala sa women’s makapasok sa Finals because every team, ‘yung power, ‘yung will, pare-parehas,” said first year Ateneo women’s coach Oliver Almadro, who is looking to steer the Lady Eagles back on the throne since winning it all back in Season 77. “In this kind of series, you scratch the statistics. Importante na lang, what they really want. We are here because they really wanted it.”          

Ateneo broke free from a tight start in the opening set with a 7-1 scoring barrage for a 16-11 advantage. FEU tried to make a significant rally but the Lady Eagles were there to stop the Lady Tams in their tracks to take the first frame.

FEU opened the second frame with an 8-3 lead but saw Ateneo make a telling 7-1 run to take the upper hand, 17-14. The Lady Tamaraws saw an opening after a Gaston attack error to rack up six straight points capped by Jerrili Malabanan’s three straight points to reclaim the advantage, 21-18.

Malabanan pushed FEU at set point, 24-20, before Kat Tolentino scored a down the line kill. Rookie Vannie Gandler surrendered the frame after sending her service long.    

The Lady Eagles staved off the Lady Tams’ rally late in the third set, after FEU saved three straight set points to breathe down Ateneo’s neck, 24-23, with a Gaston off the block hit for a 2-1 match lead.  

Malabanan finished her collegiate career with 18 points with 16 coming off attacks while Heather Guino-o closed her swan song with 12 markers - all of kills - and added 14 digs for Lady Tams. Jeanette Villareal scored 11 for FEU, which committed 36 errors. 

 

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