by Jonas Terrado

Ateneo arranged a title showdown with University of Santo Tomas after finishing off Far Eastern University, 25-20, 21-25, 25-23, 25-14, in the rubber match of their UAAP women’s volleyball Final Four at The Arena in San Juan.

Kat Tolentino sizzled for 19 points as the Lady Eagles redeemed themselves from a 10-25, 25-23, 25-22, 12-25, 15-8 loss to the Lady Tamaraws last Saturday and advanced to their seventh finals in eight seasons.

The Lady Eagles, who also avenged last season’s Final Four defeat to FEU, will face the Tigresses in a best-of-three finals set to unfold Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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Ateneo’s Maddie Madayag celebrates during the UAAP Volleyball Semis against FEU at the Filoil Fying V Centre in San Juan. (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Coach Oliver Almadro successfully steered Ateneo to the finals in his first season since succeeding Thai mentor Tai Bundit.

UST earned the first finals berth after ending the three-year title reign of La Salle last Sunday.

Ateneo swept their two elimination round meetings with UST but the latter is on a high after winning its final five games including the Final Four.

Maddie Madayag and Ponggay Gaston added 12 points apiece as Ateneo prevailed in the match that lasted almost two hours.

Jerrili Malabanan and Heather Guino-O scored 18 and 12 points in their final collegiate games as FEU fell short of a return trip to the finals.

Deanna Wong accounted for 19 of Ateneo’s 20 excellent sets while the Lady Eagles produced 12 blocks, half of which came from Madayag and Bea de Leon.

Almadro paid tribute to the leadership of Madayag and De Leon, who both refused to succumb to the pressure of possibly ending their season despite topping the elims with a 12-2 record.

Graduating seniors Jerrili Malabanan and Heather Guino-O scored 18 and 12 points in their final collegiate games as FEU fell short of a return trip to the finals.

Jerrili Malabanan and Heather Guino-O scored 18 and 12 points in their final collegiate games as FEU fell short of a return trip to the finals.

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