Lady Eagles Bow to Lady Spikers in Women's Volleyball, lose UAAP championship
The Lady Eagles looked convincing and led in all statistics in the 1st set. Early in the set, the Lady Eagles were on fire and led by as much as 9 with Valdez destroying the La Salle wall and De Leon guarding the net, 10-1. Quickly after, the Lady Spikers retaliated with 4 straight points to decrease the Lady Eagles advantage to 5. Then, the Lady Eagles led by the powerful kills of Valdez and Maraguinot, made sure that this advantage stayed until the 2nd technical timeout, 16-10. Deliberately, Dy and the rest of the Lady Spikers caught up with their forceful spiking and heavy services to inch closer 19-16, but the Lady Eagles eventually ran away with the set through the attacks of Valdez and Maraguinot and the blocks of De Leon, 23-19. In the end, another smashing back row attack by Valdez and a lucky service ace by Maraguinot put a period on this set.
The 2nd set became the turning point of the match, unfortunately for the Lady Eagles the amount of errors they committed cost them this set. The set started with both teams firing. Valdez immediately scored 6 points for the Lady Eagles, and this was neutralized by their errors and the Lady Spikers’ offense, but eventually, another solid attack by Maraguinot brought the Lady Eagles on top, 8-7. The two teams continued to slug it out and score against each other, but at 10-10, the Lady Spikers came up with a 6-0 run to create some space heading to the 2nd technical time out. Directly after, Valdez, Morado and De Leon teamed up to produce a 7-1 run to tie the game at 17. The set remained close until at 20-21. An open spike by the Lady Spikers ignited another 4-1 run, and a ravishing spike by Ara Galang stunningly ended this set.
Unforced errors became the bane of the Ateneo game. In the beginning of this set, the Lady Spikers started strongly and scored from their blocks, serves and attacks to lead the Lady Eagles, 4-8. The Lady Eagles then succumbed to a series of errors, which allowed the Lady Spikers to keep their advantage, 11-16. Ateneo tried to fight back, but they just struggled to break through the Lady Spikers’ wall and struggled to control their mistakes. In the end of this set, another unlikely error on the attack by Gaston frustratingly closed the set for the Lady Eagles.
With fatigue setting in, the Lady Eagles were no match for the Lady Spikers. Early on, the Lady Spikers already used their sturdy blocks to force errors from the Lady Eagles and score kill blocks, 2-8. The Lady Eagles continued struggling for points, while the Lady Spikers showed no remorse and attacked and blocked at all angles, 5-17. The Lady Eagles, led by Valdez, fought back valiantly to delay the inevitable, but eventually, another wicked attack by Finals MVP Kim Dy won the Lady Spikers the Championship.
The Lady Eagles really exerted Herculean efforts, especially this year’s MVP Alyssa Valdez who dazzled with a huge 31-point output to end her UAAP career, while Jhoana Maraguinot chipped in 10 points. Jia Morado organized the offense with 49 excellent sets, while Gizelle Tan became the backbone of the Lady Eagles defense by tallying 21 receptions and 18 digs.
At the end of everything, the Lady Eagles went to the Lady Spikers to congratulate and show respect to their victorious opponents. Alyssa Valdez then emotionally took a lap around the court to bid her heartfelt farewell and thank the Women’s Volleyball Team supporters.
This game signified the end of the Alyssa Valdez era for the Ateneo Women’s Volleyball Team for she will graduate with Mae Tajima and Amy Ahomiro, who was also a huge part of the success of the Lady Eagles. For now, it is back to the drawing board for the Lady Eagles as they hope to bounce back in the next season.