by Kristel Satumbaga
Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
8 a.m. – NU vs UST (men’s)
10 a.m. – UP vs FEU (men’s)
2 p.m. – UP vs NU (women’s)
4 p.m. – UST vs FEU (women’s)
Three-time champion La Salle booked its 11th straight Final Four appearance after dismantling perennial rival Ateneo, 25-17, 25-13, 25-23, yesterday in UAAP women’s volleyball at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Eagles attacked the net at all angles and took advantage of the Lady Eagles’ sub-par performance, clinching their ninth win against three losses for second.
Ateneo, which already booked the first semifinal berth, remained on top but saw its 10-game winning run come to a halt after slipping to 10-2. Incidentally, its other defeat also came at the expense of La Salle last Feb. 17, 25-14, 25-17, 16-25, 25-19.
Rookie Jolina Dela Cruz fired 14 points while Lourdes Clemente and Ogunsanya added 10 points each for La Salle, which neutralized Ateneo’s defense as the Lady Eagles – the current leading blocking team – failed to make a single block.
The Lady Spikers directed the tempo throughout particularly in the second frame as the Lady Eagles struggled with their offense and managing only three attacks.
Ateneo, however, regained its fiery offense behind the efforts of Maddie Madayag, threatening La Salle in the third set by slicing off its 22-16 deficit to only one, 24-23.
But a Tin Ogunsanya corner kill sealed it for the Lady Spikers, who also soared to their fourth straight victory.
La Salle coach Ramil De Jesus wasn’t expecting a straight-set win over Ateneo but lauded his stalwarts for sticking to their game plan.
“Kailangan namin itong panalong ito para makalayo sa mga nakadikit sa amin,” said De Jesus, referring to third-running Far Eastern University and University of Santo Tomas which carry 8-4 cards. (We needed this win to pull away from other teams.)
None from Ateneo scored in twin figures with Ponggay Gaston scoring seven points and Madayag, Kat Tolentino and Bea De Leon finishing with six measly points each.