MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE) Ateneo de Manila University is now assured of a twice-to-beat privilege in the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball Final 4 after a straight sets victory over Adamson University on Wednesday at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
The Lady Eagles battled through a nip-and-tuck second set for a 25-16, 28-26, 25-17 triumph over the also-ran Lady Falcons, giving them the first of two semifinals bonuses in the Final 4.
It was a bounce-back victory for the Katipunan spikers, who saw their 10-match winning streak snapped by defending champion De La Salle University before the league took a break for the Holy Week.
"I commend my players," said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro afterward. "We prepared for every game. Hindi sila nagpapahinga, and they're making many sacrifices."
Kat Tolentino had 17 points on 12 kills and 5 blocks, while Maddie Madayag added 13 points on 9 kills, 3 blocks, and an ace for the Lady Eagles, who now have an 11-2 win-loss record. They put up 46 attack points, and registered 11 kill blocks this time around after a much-publicized zero-block outing against La Salle.
After cruising to a one-set lead, the Lady Eagles found themselves dragged into a tough battle in the second frame. Adamson took a 21-19 advantage after Lea Ann Perez blocked Madayag, though the veteran bounced back with two straight running kills that sparked a 4-0 blast.
Ateneo was unable to sustain their momentum, however, and the Lady Falcons scored 3 unanswered points to reach set point, 24-23. Madayag again came to their rescue, scoring on yet another running hit then blocking Adamson's Bern Flora to give the Lady Eagles a 25-24 lead.
An Ateneo error knotted the count at 25, before Vanie Gandler scored on a down-the-line hit to give the Lady Eagles a second set point, 26-25. Flora saved a point anew, but Ponggay Gaston came through with two clutch hits to give Ateneo the win.
"We have to be able to adjust when things might not go our way, and that was a good way to test us," said Tolentino.
The Lady Eagles went on to take a comfortable win in the third frame, with Almadro getting the chance to play some of his little-used players.
Deanna Wong had 23 excellent sets, and Kim Gequillana was credited with 20 digs and 20 excellent receptions in the game.
No player reached double digits for Adamson, which has now lost 9 games in a row to drop to 1-12 in the tournament. Chiara Permentilla led the Lady Falcons with 9 points.
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