Atenio, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23, suffered a third-quarter knock before closing late Thursday to take part in the UAAP Season 84 Women’s Volleyball Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena in La Salle, Philippines, Manila.
The unbeaten finalists in the top three series starting Saturday will face Lady Spykers National University.
But it wasn’t without a hitch as Atenio relied on Faith Nisperos to lead the charge of the late match and lead the Blue Eagles 21-14 to 22-19 in his four points.
Erica Ragas then helped Atenio breathe on La Salle’s neck at 23-22 and erased a match point for 24-23.
In the end, it was the Lady Spykers’ well-oiled system that resulted in Thea Gaggett and Leia Malaluan scoring goals to defend their first final appearance in the next four seasons.
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Malaluwan finished with 16 points, with Gaggett and Jolina Della Cruz adding 13 points for the Lady Spykers. Nisperos finished with 19 markers for the Falling Defending Champions.
La Salle did not waste time imposing his strength, back-to-back aces of Della Cruz to take the lead at 12-11 from a 7-10 deficit. Aleya Malaluan did not have to look back on the set after finding her mark and Thea Gaggett closed the airspace for the Blue Eagles.
The Lady Spikers scored four in the kill-block while making fewer errors in the opening frame, 8-3, as they did not show the Blue Eagles the result of a long break.
Speed spread to the second set as each Lady Spyker played their role well in the system in La. Gadgets fueled their last set drive which slamed for a 21-18 lead.
Atenio fired to close the top gunman Nisperos 22-20. But no other Blue Eagle, like Julia Coronel of La Salle, was willing or able to move forward, whose ace placed Lady Spykers in the set frame in the second frame.
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