<
>

Lady Eagles overpower Golden Tigresses, force rubber match

The Ateneo Lady Eagles kept their championship hopes alive with a 26-24, 14-25, 25-21, 25-15 victory over the UST Golden Tigresses in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 81 women's volleyball finals Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Lady Eagles recovered from a lopsided loss in the second set to come out strong in the next two periods and force a rubber match.

Ateneo's big three -- Maddie Madayag, Bea de Leon, and Kat Tolentino -- led the way in the inspired comeback. Madayag topscored with 17 points including four kill blocks, while De Leon and Tolentino added a combined 24 points.

"We really played our best, we really worked as a team. Every point, we just gave it all," said Madayag.

Dani Ravena, named Player of the Game, stepped up on the defensive end as she finished with 22 digs and 12 receptions. Ponggay Gaston and Jules Samonte contributed 11 digs and 16 receptions, respectively, on top of a combined 16 points.

After a dominant play in the second set, the Tigresses suffered a huge blow as Rookie of the Year Eya Laure, hurt her left ankle in the opening of Set 3. Laure returned late in the third when the Lady Eagles were starting to gain control.

Through total team effort, Ateneo established as much as a 20-8 lead in Set 4 before UST found a bit of rhythm. The Lady Eagles refused to give up their momentum as they continued to pounce to finish it off in four sets.

Newly-minted MVP Sisi Rondina fought until the end but her 22 points, 16 digs, and eight receptions went for naught. The Tigresses saw their seven-game streak come to an end with this loss.

Ateneo and UST will resume the intense battle for the crown in a winner-take-all Game 3 on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.