ATENEO-Motolite drew huge games from veterans Kat Tolentino and Bea de Leon and weathered a 30-point explosion by Myla Pablo to carve out a 25-23, 17-25, 25-20, 30-28 win over Pocari Sweat-Air Force in the PVL Open Conference last night at the Imus Sports Complex.
Tolentino made a huge block - her fourth in the match - to shatter a 28-28 deadlock before De Leon nailed a quick kill to give the Lady Eagles their first win under new coach Oliver Almadro.
Tolentino finished with 19 points, including two service aces, while De Leon had three service aces for a 12-point score for Ateneo.
Trailing 14-19, the Lady Eagles were able to clinch the opening frame after the Lady Warriors committed three straight errors, including an overreaching violation on Dell Palomata that turned out to be the set point.
Ateneo was in the thick of things in the early goings of the second set but Pocari Sweat pulled away from an 11-11 standoff to level at one set apiece.
Tolentino then took charge in the third frame to give the Lady Eagles a 2-1 set advantage.
Pablo, the reigning Reinforced Conference MVP, was also solid in other skills with 19 receptions and 13 digs.
Jeanette Panaga was the other Lady Warrior in twin digits with 16 points, including four blocks and two service aces.
After skipping the Collegiate Conference, Ateneo is using the season-ending tournament to toughen the team up in the long run.
Ushering in a new era under former men’s volleyball coach Almadro, the Lady Eagles had six rookies in their PVL roster as part of UAAP Season 81 buildup.
Vanessa Gandler had an impressive debut among the newcomers with nine points, including three blocks, and 14 excellent receptions.
Jules Samonte and Ponggay Gaston, however, were not fielded in as they are participating in the UAAP beach volleyball tournament scheduled to start today.