Back-to-back defending champion Ateneo de Manila University kicked off their three-peat bid in style after frustrating National University in straight sets Sunday in the UAAP Season 78 women’s volleyball tournament at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
The Lady Eagles fell behind early in the first two sets, but stamped their class in crunch time to run away with a 25-21, 25-19, 25-14 victory — their 19th straight victory dating back to Season 76.
Setter Jia Morado set the tone for Ateneo, masterfully weaving the Lady Eagles’ attack that produced 37 attacks and 10 service aces.
Despite the impressive win, two-time MVP Alyssa Valdez chose to tone it down.
‘It’s just the first match and we still have a long way to go,” said Valdez, who finished with 18 points off 15 hits and 3 aces. “We’re really happy we got the first game. I think it’s character-building for all of us.”
Sophomore Maddie Madayag was a revelation for the Katipunan spikers, posting career-best numbers off 13 points off five hits, five blocks and three aces.
But not everything was rosy for Ateneo, who trailed the Lady Bulldogs in the first two sets before clawing back and snatching victories with late rallies.
Bea de Leon had 10 points while Jho Maraguinot and Amy Ahomiro combined for 13 markers for the Lady Eagles.
Myla Pablo and Jaja Santiago each rose for 11 points, but weren’t able to push NU back up when they were sputtering late in the first two frames.