Geva De Vera steered Ateneo to the cusp of winning a second straight title as the Lady Eagles took Tie 1 of the UAAP Season 82 Women's Badminton Finals from De La Salle, 3-2, Friday at the Centro Atletico Badminton Center.
De Vera, last season's Co-Most Valuable Player, shut down the challenge of rookie Mia Manguilimotan in the deciding singles match, 21-18, 21-14, to secure the win.
La Salle drew first blood as captain Iyah Sevilla took a 22-20, 21-17 victory over Chanelle Lunod in the first singles rubber, before pairing up with Kanna Baba in taking care of Mika De Guzman and Sam Ramos, 21-11, 17-21, 21-18, to level the match.
De Guzman drew level as she outlasted Baba at 18-21, 21-15, 21-14 in the second doubles match. Lunod and De Vera then took care of Shaynne Boloron and Palma Cruz at 21-13, 21-14 for the 2-1 lead.
Ateneo head coach Kennie Asuncion was pleased with the composure the defending champions showed saying, "We started shakily but it was the spirit of the girls that pulled through."
National University finally got their first-ever podium finish, sweeping University of the Philippines at 3-0.
National team standout Sarah Barredo and graduating captain Jiselle Capillo turned back Jaja Andres and Tricia Opon, 15-21, 21-17, 21-13, in the lone doubles match played to get the breakthrough victory.
Kate Amigable exacted revenge on graduating Airish Macalino to put the Lady Bulldogs on the board first, 21-13, 10-21, 21-15. Barredo then denied Aldreen Concepcion for the 2-0 lead, 21-9, 21-11.
"We know that they will fight but we will prepare," Asuncion said on tomorrow's second tie.