The Blue Eagles could fight another day for their title

Faith Nisperos led Atenio to the UAAP Season 84 semifinals by defeating Adamson.  UAAP pictures

Faith Nisperos led Atenio to the UAAP Season 84 semifinals by defeating Adamson. UAAP pictures

Defending champion Atenio defeated Adamson 25-20, 28-26, 25-22 on Saturday to advance to the last four of the Mall of Asia Arena at the UAAP Season 84 Women’s Volleyball Tournament.

And as hard as the Blue Eagles worked for that win, overcoming Lady Falcon could be the easiest part of their stapler ride.

“We can live another day,” said Atenio coach Oliver Almadro. “Hopefully we can be better than our best every day and in the days to come.”

The next day will be Tuesday, when Atenio will face the No. 3 University of Santo Thomas in the next step of climbing to defend his title. If the Blue Eagles survive, they will have to face La Salle and its double-bit bonus. And if they somehow find a way to string these two necessary wins, the Princesses get a shot at the undefeated National U.

“I wanted to gain confidence from my players. It’s not just about skills, it’s about trusting their skills and trusting each other’s talents, “said Almadro.

They sure did it. Especially Faith Nisperos, who hit 22 points, including two of their last four points. Middle blocker AC Minor 16 added, while Vanessa Gandler chipped in 12.

At the heart of the power triad, however, was Zaza Maraguinot, the fast-thinking Atenio Setter who knew which strings to pull and when to pull them against a hard-fought Adamson squad.

“The coach told me to activate the middle blockers, which is actually one of our strategies for this game,” said Maraguinot, who tossed 21 excellent sets. “I think I did my role well tonight.”

Redeeming yourself

In the third set, Nisperos made a late error that Adamson pounded as Atenio was trailing 20-21 for the last time. But the Blue Eagles’ top scorer redeemed himself with two straight points before setting a match point with another kill minor.

“Coming into this game, the coach said we just have to follow our strategy and play our part,” Nisperos said. “And we really tried to enjoy the game. It was all teamwork so we were able to do it. “

The Blue Eagles flew four set points in the second frame and even allowed the Lady Falcons to reach the set point twice before stealing the period to get down to work.

“I have the talent of the players but sometimes we tend to be overwhelmed,” observed Almadro, who allegedly attacked the Lady Falcons 40-27 in the first two sets.

Gandler notices the same trend but remains confident they have time to iron it out.

“There is always room for improvement,” he said. “The good news is that we always go back to making mistakes. We don’t get frustrated easily. “

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