Ateneo spikers make it to semis

ATENEO reasserted its mastery of Far Eastern University, 25-21, 25-10, 25-18, to move on the cusp of securing its 10th straight Final Four appearance last night in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament at the Filoil Flying V Centre.

The Lady Eagles played their most dominant set this season in the second frame, racing to a 14-2 lead on a classic Deanna Wong-Bea de Leon combination play and led by as much as 14 points that put the fight out of the Lady Tamaraws.

Earlier, Marian Buitre had season-highs 19 points and 17 digs as University of the Philippines joined University of Santo Tomas and FEU in third place at 6-4 following a scrambling 25-23, 20-25, 25-23, 24-26, 15-11 win over hard-luck University of the East.

Ateneo extended its winning streak to nine after a season-opening loss to defending champion La Salle to solidify its hold of the top spot.

The Lady Eagles’ victory also opened a two-game cushion over the second-running Lady Spikers (7-3).

The Lady Tamaraws tried to put up a fight in the third set, but the Katipunan-based squad was simply too much too handle.

Wong, last year’s Best Setter, distributed the offense well with 30 excellent sets, scored two of her four points from service aces and collected 12 digs.

“I’m happy that the players responded to the challenge. We know FEU will give us a challenge. We have to level up their energy and intensity,” said coach Oliver Almadro after Ateneo completed a sweep of elimination round head-to-head with the 29-time champions.

Ponggay Gaston and Kat Tolentino each scored 11 hits for the Lady Eagles.

Buitre, ably filled up the huge void left by injured open spiker Isa Molde as the Lady Maroons remained in the thick of the Final Four race while sending the Lady Warriors on the ropes.

UP won despite giving away 36 points from errors, as coach Godfrey Okumu got a sigh of relief after surviving a pesky UE side.