Lady Eagles keep lead, rip ‘neighbors’

ATENEO stretched its winning run to eight games following a 25-23, 25-16, 25-23 conquest of University of the Philippines in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament last night before 11,943 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Rallying around injured Isa Molde, the Lady Maroons put up a valiant stand, leading 20-18, before the Lady Eagles were able to close it out with a straight set win capped by a Jules Samonte kill.

Earlier, Ivana Agudo and Jerrili Malabanan shone in the deciding set as Far Eastern University survived University of the East, 25-15, 16-25, 12-25, 25-22, 17-15.

Ateneo was up, 4-0, early in the second set when Molde went down with an injury, as the fourth year spiker landed her left knee into libero Mirgie Bautista, crumbled to the floor in pain. She was wheel off to the dugout and never returned in the match.

The Lady Maroons obviously struggled without Molde, as the Lady Eagles took a 16-6 advantage en route to taking a 2-0 set advantage.

Ateneo continued its hold of the top spot with an 8-1 card and had completed an elimination round head-to-head sweep of UP.

“We are happy that we won. We really prepared for this,” said Lady Eagles mentor Oliver Almadro. “Kailangan ng consistency pa.”

Ably filling the void left by injured spiker Lycha Ebon, Agudo’s off-the-block kill  put the Lady Tamaraws at match point, 14-11.

Capitalizing on their opponents’ errors, the Lady Warriors scored four straight points to move closer to victory, but the Morayta-based spikers won’t be denied, as Malabanan provided the finishing touches with back-to-back kills.

With its sixth win in nine matches, FEU now shares second place with defending champion La Salle and University of Santo Tomas, a game ahead of UP (5-4).

“Yun ang hinahanap ko sa dulo, yung mga veterans namin,” said Lady Tamaraws coach George Pascua after the hard-earned victory. “Sinabi ko sa kanila, it’s not about Lycha (Ebon). Ang naging motivation namin yung pagkawala niya. Naniniwala ako sa kanila na kaya nilang mag-perform kahit wala yung isa sa mga scorer namin.”

Agudo scored all but one of her 12 points from attacks while Malabanan  had 11 points, including two service aces, and 17 digs.