Lady Eagles Endure Lady Spikers and Force a Tiebreaker
The 2nd set was the closest set in the match with both teams firing at will, but the Lady Eagles’ mistakes became their downfall. At the start, both teams produced intense exchanges and kept the set tied, until a quick attack by De Leon brought the Lady Eagles to the 1st technical timeout with slight lead, 8-7. Both teams continued to swap long and strenuous points, until an error by Fajardo and an uncontrollable ace by Morado brought the Lady Eagles to the 2nd technical timeout on top, 16-14. Valdez and Maraguinot remained the Lady Eagles’ main weapons, but an ace by Ahomiro brought the Lady Eagles to set point, 24-20. Instantly after, the Lady Spikers bounced back by capitalizing on Ateneo’s 2 spiking errors and scored a quick attack and an ace to tie the match, 24-24. La Salle’s Reyes then committed a service error to hand a set point to the Lady Eagles, but the Lady Eagles did not make use of this and committed 2 straight unforced errors to return the set point to the Lady Spikers. At 25-26, Valdez retaliated with a vicious attack from the opposite side, back-to-back hits by the Lady Spikers remarkably concluded this set.
The fiery attacking of the Lady Eagles was the key to winning the next set. Early on, Valdez, Maraguinot and De Leon already launched unstoppable spikes and punished the Lady Spikers’ defense to put them on top of the set, 8-6. With their blocks working and attacks producing points, the Lady Eagles started to run away in the set, 16-10. Despite errors hobbling in, Valdez, Ahomiro and Maraguinot teamed up to protect the lead, until the set came to a surprising end when Therese Gaston unloaded the final kill of the set.
The Lady Spikers’ errors enabled the Lady Eagles to force a decider. The Lady Eagles rode on their momentum to begin the set, with Valdez heading the charge with her wicked spikes. Morado and Maraguinot later entered the picture and scored points for Ateneo, while the Lady Spikers committed 5 uncharacteristic errors, which allowed the Lady Eagles’ advantage to escalate, 16-11. Valdez and Maraguinot resumed racking up the points after the technical timeout, while the Lady Spiker continued to pile up their errors to let the Lady Eagles breeze through, 23-14. Immediately after, the Lady Eagles made two errors to let La Salle inch closer, but unexpectedly, the Lady Spikers reciprocated with two errors of their own to unanticipatedly close the set.
In the deciding set, the Lady Eagles became more composed than their counterparts. At the beginning of the set, both teams traded tenacious and tough points, until at 5-5, Maraguinot and Valdez scored back to back fierce kills to give the Lady Eagles the crucial 2-point lead, 7-5. Valdez then continued to carry her team and fire at will from all angles to preserve the Lady Eagles advantage and bring them closer to match point, 13-10. Quickly after, she made a net infraction to bring La Salle nearer, but an astounding clutch kill by Maraguinot and a solid block by Ahomiro sent the Finals series to a rubber match.
Although Valdez scored most of the points, there were a lot of other reasons why the Lady Eagles won over the Lady Spikers. First of all, they dominated the Lady Spikers in attacking. Being the league’s top spiking team, it is expected that the Lady Eagles will be more efficient in this department, and this is what they presented as they completely outhit La Salle 63-47. Secondly, they were able to put up a formidable wall for net defense. Unlike the 13-2 mastery of La Salle in Game 1, the Lady Eagles were able to keep this statistic close and they did a great job in avoiding the Lady Spikers’ net defense 9-6. Thirdly, the setting of Jia Morado in this match was more adequate than in Game 1. The league’s 2nd place setter was able to deceive the blockers a lot of times with her combination plays and unpredictable sets. Also, she outplayed league’s best setter Kim Fajardo 70-61. Fourth, slowly improving floor defense. Libero, Gizelle Tan was originally a setter and this year she was converted. There's no denying that she improved vastly and put up a valiant effort in this match tallying 19 digs and 23 excellent receives. It was also evident that the team’s floor defense slowly improved from the 1st set to the last, and this allowed them come back and win the match. Finally, sense of urgency. In an interview after game 1, Ahomiro and Valdez said that they lacked the killer instinct. In this game, they showed resiliency and sense if urgency by protecting their advantage and keeping the Lady Spikers behind as much as possible. If these things continue to happen for Lady Eagles, then it is not impossible for them to win this whole thing.
Another colossal matchup is looming in the 3rd game between Ateneo and La Salle for the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Crown. It will be on April 30, 2016 at 4pm at the Araneta Coliseum.