Fourth-ranked Ateneo de Manila University advanced to the next phase of the UAAP Season 84 women's volleyball stepladder, eliminating third seed University of Santo Tomas, 25-23, 25-23, 25-20, Tuesday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The Blue Eagles will next face their archrival De La Salle University, armed with a twice-to-beat advantage, on Thursday at 6:30 pm.
Faith Nisperos did it all for Ateneo with 23 points on 17 attacks, four service aces, and two blocks on top of eight excellent receptions.
"We know naman na UST will be tough eh. Nakita niyo kami 'yung naghahabol, we just finished it strong and right," said Ateneo head coach Oliver Almadro. "We just relied on our fundamentals and doing it right."
Trailing by a point in the first frame, Blue Eagles AC Miner and Vanie Gandler took a point apiece before off the bench Lyann De Guzman blocked Eya Laure for the early advantage, 25-22.
And in the second salvo, it was deja vu as Ateneo came back from 22-23 down, courtesy of Nisperos, Gandler, and Jeycel Delos Reyes, for the 2-0 set lead, 25-23.
Ahead by just three in the third set, the Blue Eagles connected on four straight occasions to stretch their lead to seven, 22-15, en route to the 25-20 clincher.
"I just asked Faith to relax (down the stretch) alam niyo naman si Faith 'yung intensity niya. I really commend this girl kasi nag-adjust siya. I guess and I hope Faith is maturing right in time," said Almadro on her top gun.
Gandler chipped in 15 points on the victory while Erika Raagas and Miner chimed in nine and seven points, respectively.
Ateneo is now 3-0 in elimination games this season, beating University of the Philippines, Adamson University, and now UST.
"It's a matter of maybe finishing it right and of course, ulit ulit naming sinasabi 'yung aming battlecry na faith, trust, courage," said Nisperos.
The Golden Tigresses were led by Laure with 15 points to go with her 17 excellent receptions and eight digs.
Imee Hernandez added 11 points while Ysa Jimenez had nine points off the bench. (Dennis Lachica, Sportsmanila Photojournalist)