THE defending champion Ateneo Lady Eagles rallied from a 3-point deficit, charging back with a big run in the third set to put away the National University Lady Bulldogs, 26-24, 25-17, 25-19, in the 78th University Athletic Association of the Philippines women’s volleyball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
They were 10-13 when Jhoanna Maraguinot struck with three attack points and Kassandra Gequillana hit two of her four aces to push the Lady Eagles ahead, 20-14.
The Lady Eagles arrested a two-game losing skid and stayed in the solo lead of the women’s division with their seventh triumph in nine outings after their 76-minute game.
“We just played and focused in the game, just as coach (Tai Bundit) wanted us to do,” said Maraguinot, who had 12 points behind Alyssa Valdez’s 20 points. Gequillana made nine.
It was a twin-kill for Ateneo after the Blue Eagles needed only 78 minutes to get past University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in three sets, 25-9, 27-25, 25-15, and remain firmly at the top of the standings.
The Blue Eagles stretched their winning run to six and 8-1 overall as Ysay Marasigan and reigning back-to-back Most Valuable Player awardee Marck Espejo led the way.
Marasigan and Espejo finished with 16 and 15 points, respectively, for the Blue Eagles as they scored 12 attacks points each in Ateneo’s 46 attack points.
UP dropped to 4-5.
In the only other seniors’ game, National University, working behind Madzlan Gampong’s 21 points, likewise posted a straight-sets victory, 25-20, 18-25, 25-21, 27-26, over the University of the East.
The Bulldogs upped their record to 6-3, while handing the Red Warriors their ninth straight loss.
In the women’s side, Far Eastern University clinched its first win in the second round behind a straight-sets win over the University of the East Lady Warriors, 25-13, 25-18, 25-21.
The Lady Tamaraws, who drew big plays from Bernadeth Pons and Toni Basas, moved up to fourth spot with a 5-4 win-loss record.
Pons had 19 points from 18 kills and a service ace, while Basas added nine.