Ateneo storms back, bests UST in five sets
SAN JUAN, Philippines – Digging themselves up from a 0-2 hole, the Ateneo Lady Eagles continued their winning ways after outlasting the UST Golden Tigresses in five sets, 19-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-22, 15-11, in the 81st UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan on Wednesday.
With both teams coming off win streaks, the match-up proved to be a battle.
Maddie Madayag powered the Lady Eagles in their comeback, leading the team with 23 points, including a staggering 11 points off of blocks — the most in a UAAP game since 2006.
Kat Tolentino also had a big night for the Lady Eagles, finishing with 20 points.
Meanwhile, Sisi Rondina had a monster game with 35 points while rookie sensation Eya Laure chipped in with 21.
Ateneo extends their winning streak to seven games while UST falls to a 5-3 record after winning three straight.
The Golden Tigresses were the dominant ones at the start of the match, with Rondina and Laure pounding the Ateneo defense.
UST held a double-digit lead in the opening set, , 20-8.
Despite an intense rally from the Ateneo side late in the first set, the deficit proved too much as UST struck first, 25-19.
It was the same slow start for Ateneo in the second set. UST had the advantage, 8-2.
Ateneo bounced back faster this time, going on an offensive run of their own to force an 11-all deadlock.
Both squads were neck-and-neck after that, trading runs and points until the game was once again tied at 18. But Laure took the reins for the Tigresses, going on a personal 3-0 run to help UST pull away.
Despite the Eagles cutting the lead back to one, 23-22, back-to-back attacks from Rondina squashed Ateneo's comeback for a 2-0 lead for UST.
With their backs against the wall, it was Ateneo's turn to start strong in the third set. They doubled up on the Espana squad, 8-4.
UST was suddenly the one playing catch-up.
By the middle of the set, Ateneo still held the advantage, 16-13.
But a five-point run in favor of UST, including two errors from the Lady Eagles, gave the advantage back to the Golden Tigresses.
Determined to not let this set go, Ateneo fought to once again get the lead. And for the first time in the match, the Lady Eagles were at set point, 24-22.
But lady luck seemed to shine on UST as controversial back-to-back errors tied the game.
Sweeping the Lady Eagles was within reach. A spike from Rondina gave UST their first taste of match point, but Madayag and Bea de Leon had other plans.
Madayag and de Leon powered Ateneo in the crucial run to force a fourth set, 27-25.
By the fourth set, Ateneo seemed to up their intensity.
Even with UST pulling away in the middle of the fourth, 13-8, the Lady Eagles didn't falter in harassing the UST offense.
Shutting the door on attacks from the Tigresses, as well as converting on their own attacks, helped Ateneo stay alive.
A five-point run gave the Lady Eagles breathing room late in the set, 21-18.
Despite UST chipping away at their lead, an off-speed attack from Tolentino forced the deciding fifth set, 25-22.
It was a back-and-forth affair in the final set, with the two teams grinding it out.
Both teams were still at deadlock late in the match, 10-all. But momentum shifted to the Lady Eagles' side after a crucial 3-0 run.
It was UST that eventually handed Ateneo the win after back-to-back errors from Rondina ended the tight contest, 15-11.
Ateneo maintains the top spot with a 7-1 record.