THE defending champion Ateneo Lady Eagles fought back from two sets down and repulsed the La Salle Lady Spikers, 18-25, 26-28, 25-15, 25-18, 15-11, to tie the best-of-seven UAAP volleyball finals at the Mall of Asia Arena at one win apiece and remain in contention for their third straight crown.
Season Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez, one of three players on their final year with the team, struck with 34 points and scored the key points in the last two sets to stop La Salle’s bid for a sweep.
The Lady Spikers kept matters tight until the fifth set, when Valdez struck twice in succession to give Ateneo a three-point edge, 9-6.
Valdez also shone in defense, as she came up with a block and another killshot to hand Ateneo a decisive 11-7 spread.
“Hindi pa tapos. We’ll see you (them) Saturday,” said Valdez, who hit three points with her frontline spikes and allowed Ateneo to shatter 5-all tie as the Lady Eagles moved away, 10-5, in the third.
The Lady Eagles, who will meet the Lady Spikers in the deciding Game 3 at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, should have won the second set, but blew a 24-20 lead, as La Salle charged back with an 8-2 run.
In the men’s side, graduating student Ysay Marasigan made the crucial plays in the second set to lead the Ateneo Blue Eagles to their second straight men’s division title.
The 22-year-old Marasigan struck for 12 points, including three of the last four points scored on attacks in the second set.
His performance helped propel the Blue Eagles to a 25-16, 25-20, 25-19, (3-0) victory over the National University Bulldogs in Game 2 of their best-of-three finals series. Marasigan was later named Finals’ MVP as the Blue Eagles went on to complete a two-game sweep at the end of their 71-minute showdown.
“The players delivered. They believed that they are worthy. ‘Yun ang importante,” said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro.
Playing a consistent game, the Blue Eagles had little trouble taking a 16-8 lead in the first period.
In the third set, Joshua Villanueva’s kill and block allowed Ateneo to move away, 9-4.
NU missed the crown for a second straight season. The Bulldogs last won the crown via a 2-game sweep over the same team in Season 77.
Season MVP Marck Espejo backed up Marasigan with 11 points, while James Natividad had eight points for NU.