By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
AN EVENTFUL UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament boils down to one last game this weekend as the Ateneo Lady Eagles and University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses make a final go at being crowned University Athletic Association of the Philippines champions in their do-or-die Game Three match.
Set for Saturday, May 18, at 3:30 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena, the rubber match was forced after league-leading Ateneo staved off elimination with a four-set victory over UST, 26-24, 14-25, 25-21 and 25-15, in Game Two on Wednesday.
The Lady Eagles played better in the collective last time around than the series opener to keep their championship aspirations alive, with contributions coming from more sources.
Maddie Madayag led the way for Ateneo in the season-salvaging victory with 17 points followed by captain Bea De Leon with 13.
Kat Tolentino had 11 points with Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte finishing with nine and seven points, respectively.
Libero Dani Ravena also came off the bench to provide needed energy and hustle from which Ateneo took cue from as added motor.
“We just believed in one another and not let our hard work go to waste,” said De Leon, who is in her final year of playing in the UAAP, of the kind of mindset they had in Game Two.
Over at UST, the Tigresses remain bullish of their chances in completing a sensational season with a title in Game Three, this despite facing the prospect of playing with a not 100% fit Eya Laure, who injured her left ankle in the previous game.
Early in the third frame in Game Two and the game tied at a set apiece, rookie of the year Laure rolled her ankle after landing on the foot of Ateneo’s Tolentino.
She was then taken to the dugout to have her ankle iced and re-taped and managed to return.
But obviously she was feeling the effects of the injury and was not as effective as she wanted to be.
Graduating captain Sisi Rondina tried her best to tow her team with a game-high 22 points but it proved to be not enough.
Despite the injury, Laure still finished in double figures with 10 points with fellow rookie Ysa Jimenez adding nine points.
The Ateneo Lady Eagles are going for their third UAAP title and first since Season 77 while the Tigresses are looking to win their 17th crown and first since Season 72.