Game Saturday (Mall of Asia Arena)
3:30 p.m. – UST vs Ateneo (Women Finals)
ATENEO drew the best from its seniors to beat University of Santo Tomas, 26-24, 14-25, 25-21, 25-15 and send the Finals to a deciding Game 3 Wednesday in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament before 19,672 fans at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Maddie Madayag had 17 points, while Bea de Leon and Kat Tolentino added 13 and 11 points, respectively for the Lady Eagles.
Also coming big for Ateneo was Jules Samonte, who had seven hits including three service aces on top of 16 receptions, while libero Dani Ravena collected 22 digs and 12 receptions.
The Lady Eagles rebounded mightily from last weekend’s straight sets loss to the Tigresses to level the best-of-three series at 1-1.
The do-or-die match is set at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at the same Pasay venue.
Meanwhile, Bryan Bagunas had a glorious finish with a career-high 35 points, 12 digs and nine receptions as National University bested Far Eastern University, 24-26, 25-23, 25-23, 25-19, to retain the men’s crown.
The mighty Bulldogs swept the best-of-three series, 2-0, and ended the season with 16 consecutive victories after a shock opening weekend loss to the Tamaraws, which coach Dante Alinsunurin as a wake-up call.
“Doon nagising ang team. Ang sabi ko nasaan ba tayo ngayon, bakit biglang natalo tayo. Mabuti naman at naka-catch up agad kami, nakabalik kami ulit sa panalo. Tuloy-tuloy lang sa ginagawa namin, nagbunga at nakuha namin ulit ang championship,” said Alinsunurin.
Sisi Rondina, who formally received the season MVP award prior to Game 2, led UST with 22 points, including three blocks, 21 digs and eight receptions.
“UST community, ito lang masasabi ko: The best kayo!,” said a beaming Rondina after receiving the league’s highest individual honors with her parents who arrived from Cebu last Tuesday.
The loss ended the Tigresses’ seven-match winning streak, as it hopes to have a healthy Laure, who hurt her left ankle in the third frame, come Saturday.
Now with four titles, NU has tied University of the Philippines as the fourth winningest program behind FEU’s 25, UST’s 19 and University of the East’s 13.
It has been a successful year for the Bulldogs, not only by winning the UAAP crown but also representing the Philippines well by copping the ASEAN University Games gold in Naypyitaw, Myanmar last December.
“Kapag nag-uusap kami, hindi lang dapat sa Pilipinas tayo mag-domina, pati sa ibang bansa,” said Alinsunurin, who is also the current national men’s volleyball coach.
Bagunas was named the season and Finals MVP to go with the 1st Best Outside Hitter and Best Server awards.
Richard Solis paced FEU with 18 points and 17 digs while Jude Garcia, Peter Quiel, RJ Paler and JP Bugaoan each scored 11 markers.