By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Ateneo de Manila Blue Eagles continued its stellar UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball run after eliminating the UST Golden Tigresses in a sweeping fashion, 25-23, 25-23, 25-20, to climb up the stepladder and challenge the de la Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers in the semifinals.
After starting the season with a disappointing 0 wins and three losses, head coach Oliver Almadro and the defending champions showed the heart and pedigree of a true winner to turn around their season and enter the final four.
From a 0-3 win-loss record, the Ateneo volleyball squad improved to 8-6 and racked up a momentum-clinching winning streak to enter the stepladder and face UST.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Golden Tigresses after Ateneo pulled off a terrific comeback on the first two sets and sealed the contest with a dominant third period.
Faith Nisperos once again answered Ateneo’s call when they needed her the most and led their attack with 23 points built from 17 attacks with four aces and two blocks.
The offensive stalwart scored crucial points for Ateneo during their massive comeback in the first two sets and was the one who set the tone heading into the third.
UST had the chance to equalize the match at one set apiece after leading 18-14 in the second set but a 7-0 Ateneo scoring run helped them regain the lead.
Nisperos led the emphatic second-set comeback and capped it off with a 3-0 scoring run in the last possessions to help Ateneo gain the 2-0 advantage.
It was all Ateneo in the last set as their offensive rhythm finally clicked along with their floor defense as Dani Ravena recorded 17 excellent digs while Jaja Maraguinot had 15 excellent sets.
Ateneo will advance to the stepladder semifinals and will face the daunting task of stopping the DLSU Lady Spikers that holds a twice-to-beat advantage.