Reaction: Lady Eagles force winner-take-all Game 3

The Ateneo Lady Eagles seem to be at home during Finals matches at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. By winning Game 2 of the Season 81 championship series against the UST Golden Tigresses, they have won five of the six title round games they’ve played here. More importantly, they are still in the running for the school’s third UAAP women’s volleyball crown.

A glimpse of Game 1 in set two

UST’s performance in the second set was a reflection of what they did in the first game. Ysa Jimenez collected service aces and reception problems plagued the Lady Eagles. Playing in front of her family, Sisi Rondina ignited her squad with a couple of kill blocks and a number of attacks.

The Golden Tigresses scored seven unanswered points to win the set, 25-14. They also had the momentum coming into the third set. But a twist of fate triggered the flip side.

Laure’s injury took the energy out of the Golden Tigresses

First of all, it was an untoward incident. Kat Tolentino happened to be contesting Eya Laure’s attack at that moment. It just so happened that Laure stepped on Tolentino’s foot and injured her ankle.

UST fans held their breath when Laure rolled on the floor while grimacing in pain. The Season 81 Rookie of the Year couldn’t put weight on her foot that her father carried her to the locker room. Laure’s return gave the Golden Tigresses an emotional boost. However, the damage has been inflicted.

Coach Kung Fu Reyes’ unit wasn’t the same without the tournament’s 1st Best Outside Hitter. Their offense became more predictable and their body language turned sorrowful. They lost the third set because they couldn’t forget what happened. The fourth set was a by-product of UST’s distractions.

While Laure was able to play again, ankle injuries can be tricky. Letting her play might have aggravated the injury instead of resting her and have Dimdim Pacres complete the game. But on the other end, Reyes understands that Ateneo could be dangerous once they get their confidence. Thus, they rolled the dice and lost the bet.

UST coaches and trainers must deal with this injury with care. They have less than 72 hours to rest Laure and bring her to great condition in Game 3.

Lady Eagles refused to lose

You know you’re having a great game when even your libero scores. Dani Ravena did just that when she saved the ball from landing on their side of the court. But beyond that, she helped stabilize Ateneo’s floor defense which has been suspect in Game 1.

The Lady Eagles had one goal in mind: extend the series to a third game. By doing so, all of them elevated their game. Maddie Madayag and Bea De Leon combined for 30 points which is a good indication that the middle blockers are being involved in the offense.

Ponggay Gaston scored nine which is way better than her one-point outing while Samonte added seven. Tolentino had roughly the same points than in Game 1. Ateneo pushed all the right buttons to score this victory. They can hoist the championship trophy if they can keep the momentum on their side.