|Ateneo team captain Jia Morado (left) tries a hit between the defense of FEU's Bernadeth Pons (2) and Jeanette Villareal in this piece of UAAP action at the MOA Arena.|
By Ricky Manliguis
PASAY CITY— It will be another Blue versus Green finale.
Ateneo booked the final ticket to the championship round, fending off a gritty Far Eastern U side to pull off a 25-22, 25-10, 16-25, 26-24, in the Final Four of the UAAP Season LXXIX women's volleyball tournament at th Mall Of Asia Arena Sunday.
The two-time champions were challenged in the last two sets by the fourth-seeded Lady Tamaraws but fired the needed hits in the clutch, thus earning the right to face bitter rivals and defending champions La Salle for the sixth consecutive time in the best-of-three affair on April 29.
Michelle Morente, Bea De Leon, and the returning Jhoan Maraguinot providing the spark offensively, the Katipunan-based team had to endure a third-set meltdown while engaing in a neck-to-neck fourth frame with the girls from Morayta.
After taking the third set in convincing fashion behind team captain Remy Palma, Bernadeth Pons, and Toni Rose Basas, FEU rallied to turn a a 4-10 fourth-set deficit to a 24-23 lead on a Jeanette Villareal hit, before Ateneo finished it off with a Morente off-the-block hammer.
Morente finished the game with 16 points spiked on 12 attacks, while the combacking Maraguinot, who sat for two games to rest her right knee, added 14 on 11 hits and three service aces.
De Leon and Kat Tolentino were also instrumental in the win with a combined 20-point output, while captain Jia Morado pumped in 51 excellent sets along with five markers.
Sophomore libero Ma. Deanna Wong also had an excellent game on the defensive side, adding 20 digs and 11 receptions for ADMU.
Pons led the FEU offensive with 14 points, while the graduating Palma chipped in 12 points.