By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE Ateneo Lady Eagles overcame a sluggish start to come back and beat the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws in five sets, 14-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-18 and 15-12, in their University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 81 encounter on Sunday at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
Came out flat in the early goings of the contest, the Lady Eagles (2-1) dug deep to overcome being two sets down to pull the rug from under the Lady Tamraws to win their second straight game while sending FEU (1-2) to back-to-back losses.
Earlier in the day, the University of Santo Tomas Golden Tigresses got back on the winning track and dealt the University of the Philippines Lady Fighting Maroons their first defeat of the season, 21-25, 25-22, 25-16 and 25-20.
The Lady Tamaraws had a hot start with contributions coming from different directions. They also capitalized on the eight errors of the Lady Eagles to sprint to a 25-14 count at the end of the first set.
In the second set Ateneo came out on a firmer footing with Kat Tolentino leading the charge.
But Celine Domingo and the Lady Tamaraws would not relent as they edged their way to an 8-6 lead by the first technical timeout.
Ateneo angled to come back only to find Heather Guino-o and rookie Lycha Ebon helping FEU to stay in control, 16-11, midway.
The Lady Eagles continued to show some fight at the homestretch of the second frame but they could not stop the Lady Tamaraws from going up two sets to none.
In the third set, Maddie Madayag spurred Ateneo to a strong start, with the team ahead in the first technical break, 8-5.
The two teams slugged it out after, fighting to a 16-15 count at the halfway point, with the Lady Eagles narrowly on top.
The Lady Eagles got some headway, 19-16, thereafter but the Lady Tamaraws fought back to within one point, 20-19.
FEU was not to come any closer as Ponggay Gaston and Bea De Leon pulled Ateneo to the set win and narrow the gap, 2-1.
Ateneo picked up where they it left off in the third set, blazing to a 16-9 advantage by the second technical timeout.
It will use it to pound on the Lady Tamaraws to force a deciding fifth set.
In the fifth, FEU regained some bearing to take command early, 8-6.
Ateneo levelled the score at 8-all after which a ferocious jostle followed.
The score was knotted at 12-all before the Lady Eagles steadied and soared for the next three points to secure the win.
Tolentino led Ateneo with 19 points in the win.
Meanwhile in the first game, UST proved to be the steadier team as it sent erstwhile undefeated UP to its first loss of Season 81 in four sets.
It was a competitive start for UP and UST with the two teams spitting the first two sets following a spirited back-and-forth.
The Tigresses picked up their defense to start the third set, racing to a 4-1 lead which they would use to establish an 8-5 cushion by the first technical timeout.
UST continued to dictate the pace after, led by captain Sisi Rondina and Minela Alessandrini, on its way to an ever bigger lead of 16-8 midway into the frame.
The gallop of the Tigresses would not be stopped by the Lady Maroons as the former went for the set closeout, 25-16, to take a 2-1 series lead.
It was a tight one at the start of the fourth set but UP would beat UST at the first technical break, 8-6, with Isa Molde getting more involved in the contest.
UST though was undaunted, going on a 6-0 run to overtake UP, 12-8, thereafter, and then take a 16-10 lead by the second technical timeout.
Tots Carlos tried to rally the Lady Maroons back, towing her team to within two points, 17-15, before Rondina and the Tigresses killed the UP run with a 5-1 comeback to extend their lead to 22-16.
From there UST would stay the course on its way to the victory.
Allesandrini led the Tigresses (2-1) with 22 points, 19 coming from attacks and three from blocks.
Rookie Eya Laure added 18 points for UST while veteran spiker Rondina finished with 17.
“It was another unpredictable game for us but we were able to step up and address our errors as the game progressed and we got the win,” said UST coach Kung-fu Reyes after.
For UP (2-1) it was Carlos who top-scored with 20 points with Molde adding 13 and Justine Dorog 10.
Incidentally, UP setter Ayel Estranero was a late scratch from the match after suffering what was ruled a food poisoning that had her being sent to the hospital to be treated. She was able to come back and support her team from the stands.