ATENEO got the needed production outside its trio of Kat Tolentino, Maddie Madayag and Bea de Leon to oust Far Eastern University, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 25-14, and advance to the Finals after a one-year absence in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament last night at the jampacked Filoil Flying V Centre.
Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte rebounded from their poor performances in last Saturday’s 25-10, 23-25, 22-25, 25-12, 8-15 defeat to the Lady Tamaraws as the Lady Eagles prevailed in their exciting Final Four duel.
Gaston had 10 attacks and two blocks for a 12-point outing while Samonte collected 11 digs for Ateneo.
“I just told the team after our loss last Saturday to keep everybody involved. Even the bench players are ready. I always involved everybody in this team. Alam nila na they are capable enough of playing and contributing to this team,” said Lady Eagles mentor Oliver Almadro.
“Many people will count us out because of the statistics. But sometimes, it’s not about statistics. It’s the resiliency of the Filipino, players and coaches. We just have to prove everybody na we are capable of reaching the Finals. Pagdating sa Finals, ibang usapan na iyan,” he added.
Ateneo, the elimination round topnotcher, will face University of Santo Tomas in the best-of-three championship series starting at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Eagles swept the Tigresses in their elimination round head-to-head this season.
Tolentino overcame early game struggles to finish with 19 points to lead Ateneo.
Extending their respective collegiate careers with the Lady Eagles to at least another week, Madayag also had 12 points, including two service aces while De Leon had four blocks for a nine-point effort.
“We didn’t entertain the thought that this was our last,” said De Leon, who along with Madayag were rookies when Ateneo won its second title via 16-0 sweep at the expense of La Salle in 2015.
The Lady Eagles took a 2-1 set lead but not before surviving a late Lady Tamaraws rally in the third.
Gaston gave Ateneo a 24-20 lead when FEU saved three set points before Gaston came to the rescue.
The Lady Tamaraws never recovered from there, as their early errors in the fourth allowed the Lady Eagles to pull away at 9-1 and could only get nearer at six points the rest of the way.
In their swan song for FEU, Jerrili Malabanan came through with 18 points, while Heather Guino-o had 12 kills and 14 digs.