Ateneo’s Queen Eagle Alyssa Valdez showed why she is MVP as she put on a virtuoso performance to lead her team to a pulsating five-set Game 2 victory against La Salle, 18-25, 26-28, 25-17, 25-16, 15-11, on Wednesday before 20,000 plus fans inside the Mall of Asia Arena.
The best-of-three series is now tied at 1-1, prompting a third and deciding game.
The three-time Most Valuable Player of the league did not want to hang up her jersey yet. She put on a cape to carry her team past the hungrier La Salle side. The graduating Valdez poured in 34 points, 32 coming from attacks and a pair of aces. Teammates Jhoanna Maraguinot and Bea de Leon supported Valdez with 15 and 12 markers, respectively. Ace playmaker Jia Morado dished out a career-best 70 excellent sets.
The Lady Spikers jumped on the gun in the opening set as they raced to a 16-5 advantage. The Lady Eagles regrouped and trimmed the lead to 7, 17-10. A timeout by La Salle halted the momentum of Ateneo and allowed the Lady Spikers to regain control of the set and draw first blood, 25-18.
In the second set, Ateneo performed much better and went toe-to-toe with the towers of La Salle. The Lady Eagles looked poised to take the second set when they built a 24-20 lead. However, the Taft side equalized the count at 24-all via aces from Mika Reyes and off-the-block spikes from Ara Galang and Kim Dy. Teams then exchanged points and errors before La Salle sealed the marathon set, 28-26.
The second set meltdown could have taken a mental and emotional toll on the Lady Eagles, but the defending champions did not let that happen. They turned the tables on La Salle and leaned on their team captain to take the last three frames, dealing heartbreak to La Salle.
Kim Dy led La Salle’s balanced attack with 16 points, while Mika Reyes added 14. Cyd Demecillo and Ara Galang finished with 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Game 3 is set on Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.