Sunday, September 6, 2015
Alyssa Valdez-led Ateneo defeats NU Bulldogs to clinch V-League top seed
The Ateneo Lady Eagles outshone the National University Lady Bulldogs in a thrilling four-set duel, 15-25, 25-19, 25-21, and 25-23, to formalize its claim on the No. 1 spot in the Final Four of the Shakey's V-League Season 12 Collegiate Conference on Saturday at the San Juan Arena.
The Lady Eagles blew a three-point lead late in the fourth set, but fought back from 17-20 down behind Alyssa Valdez, Amy Ahomiro, and Bea de Leon to notch their seventh straight win.
The victory capped Ateneo's sweep of the eliminations and the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Valdez scored four hits and Ahomiro added two more, while De Leon came through with a timely block on Aiko Urdas to end the one-hour, 31-minute encounter between two of the top teams in the V-League.
"Coach Tai (Bundit) kept reminding us to just play happy and enjoy the game," said Valdez. "But everybody played well, and we're happy to get the win."
The Lady Bulldogs overwhelmed the Lady Eagles in the opening set and dropped the next two, but looked poised to send the match into a deciding fifth set as Myla Pablo and Jaja Santiago led a six-hit roll that gave them a 20-17 advantage in the fourth set.
Ahomiro however scored on a quick attack and got an ace, while Valdez scored four hits, including a soft tip that lifted the Lady Eagles to 23-22. Valdez made an error in the next play that allowed NU to tie the game, but rebounded with an attack in deep right.
De Leon then foiled Urdas' spike, which then bounced back into an unguarded spot in the left side of the NU court.
With the loss, the Lady Bulldogs settled for No. 2 in the Final Four with a 5-2 slate, and set up a clash with the third-seeded Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws.
The Lady Tams had beaten the University of Santo Tomas Tigresses, 25-16, 19-25, 27-29, 25-15, and 15-10, to finish with a 5-2 card as well. NU, however, took the second seed due to a higher tiebreak score.
UST is now in fourth place with a 4-3 record, and will have to play Arellano (3-3) in a playoff should the Lady Chiefs get past the St. Benilde Lady Blazers in their last game of the quarterfinals on Sunday.
The Tigresses threatened at 10-14 after falling by seven match points, 7-10, but Royse Tubino scored an off-the-block hit to wrap up the victory and seal a best-of-three semifinals showdown with the Lady Bulldogs.
Valdez finished with 28 points, including 25 attacks, while Ahomiro added 10 markers.
NU tapped former ace setter Rubie de Leon, who delivered 24 excellent sets, the bulk of which came during the opening set that the Lady Bulldogs dominated. They failed to stop the Lady Eagles in the next three frames, however, and blew a chance to steal the top seed.
Pablo and Dindin Santiago-Manabat came away with 14 points each, while Jaja Santiago added 10 points.