MANILA—Ateneo ended its long wait for a Shakey’s V-League title last night with a marathon 24-26, 25-18, 25-22, 19-25, 15-11 victory over Adamson that completed a sweep of their best-of-three Season 8 first conference finals series at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.
With a youthful crew displaying ferocity beyond their years, the Lady Eagles outlasted the Lady Falcons, mixing their power game with a resolute defense that keyed their march to their first title since joining the league in Season 3.
Arguably the best player in the country at her age, 18-year-old Alyssa Valdez flashed a peerless attacking game, setter Jamenea Ferrer provided a composed performance and Thai import Kesinee Lithawat came through with decisive plays as the Lady Eagles wrapped up the title in two hours and 18 minutes.
“This is what we’ve been waiting to give back to the school ever since we started playing here,” said Charo Soriano, the former star spiker tapped to coach Ateneo at the start of the conference.
“It’s very fulfilling. We know we haven’t been a winning team, but we were learning from all of those losses,” added the first-time coach, who, at 25, is the league’s youngest champion mentor and was spearhead of the Ateneo squad that lost to Adamson in the finals of the Season 5 first conference.
This was the first major volleyball title for Ateneo since the women’s team won the NCAA title in the 1976-77 season.
Valdez and Kesinee finished with 24 points each, while Fille Cainglet had 18 points for the Lady Eagles. Ferrer efficiently orchestrated the Ateneo attack with 86 excellent sets that keyed the 63 attack points of the Lady Eagles.
“Jem (Ferrer) has been the driving force for us,” said Soriano of the sophomore who was later named Most Valuable Player of the finals. “She’s resilient.”
Kesinee converted championship point with a drop to the center but Valdez also stood out in the deciding set with six points, including three straight attacks that gave the Eagles a 13-9 cushion.
“She pulled through for us,” said Soriano, referring to Valdez, who was a guest player in the tournament since she was not eligible for the UAAP last season. “When it mattered, she didn’t hold back.”
Earlier, Bacolod’s University of St. La Salle registered the best finish by a provincial team in the V-League with a 2-0 sweep of National U in their series for third place.
The Lady Stingers scored a comprehensive 25-17, 25-21, 25-23 beating of the Lady Bulldogs, behind Sheryl Denila and Patty Jane Orendain. With a report from Reed Gabagat