Blue Eagles can fight for their title another day

Faith Nisperos leads Ateneo past Adamson and into the semi-finals of UAAP Season 84. UAAP PHOTO

Faith Nisperos leads Ateneo past Adamson and into the semi-finals of UAAP Season 84. UAAP PHOTO

Defending champion Ateneo overcame Adamson, 25-20, 28-26, 25-22, on Saturday to take the Finals spot in the UAAP Season 84 Women’s Volleyball Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena.

And just as the Blue Eagles worked hard to claim that victory, getting over the Lady Falcons may have been the easiest part of their journey to stepmother.

Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro said: “We will live a new day. “Hopefully we can be at our best every day and in the days to come.”

The next day will be Tuesday, when Ateneo faces the University of Santo Tomas No. 3 on the next ladder in his title defense. If the Blue Eagles survive after that, they need to face La Salle and its two-beat reward. And if they somehow find a way to get those two needed wins, the defending champions will secure a spot in the National Finals undefeated.

“All I ask from my players is to gain confidence. Almadro talks about not only skill but also confidence in their skills and trust in each other’s talents.

They certainly did. Especially Faith Nisperos, who took 22 points, including two of their last four. The AC Miner mid-blocker adds 16, while Vanessa Gandler adds 12.

Central to the production of the power trio, however, is Jaja Maraguinot, the quick-witted Ateneo choreographer who knows which rope to pull and when to pull them against a tough Adamson team.

“The coach told me to activate the middle blocks, that’s actually one of the strategies we have for this game,” said Maraguinot, who hit 21 sets. “I think I did a good job tonight.”

Buy yourself back

Nisperos made a late error in the third set that Adamson made when Ateneo took the lead for the last time 20-21. But the Blue Eagles top scorer redeemed with two straight points before Miner set the game up with another killer move.

“Coming into this game, the coach said we just have to follow our strategy and do our part,” Nisperos said. “And we just really tried to enjoy the game. It’s all teamwork, that’s why we were able to get it done. ”

The Blue Eagles blasted four set points in the second frame and even allowed the Lady Falcons to hit the set point twice before plunging to work and stealing that time.

“My players have talent but sometimes we tend to be underwhelmed,” commented Almadro, who hit the Lady Falcons, 40-27, in the first two sets.

Gandler noticed a similar trend but remained confident they had time to correct.

“There is always room for improvement,” she said. “The good thing is that we always give it back right after we make a mistake. We are not easily discouraged.”

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