Mendoza: La Salle could be it; destiny is Ateneo’s way?

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By Al S. Mendoza

All Write

Friday, March 14, 2014


WHAT makes Ateneo suddenly a certified championship contender is, it has a 1-2 punch very exceedingly capable of making things happen—including the improbable and impossible—for the Katipunan-based Lady Blue Eagles.

Just simply superb.

Alyssa Valdez and Michelle Morente had done it at least four times already, the latest being on Wednesday when they impeccably powered Ateneo past La Salle to arrange today’s winner-take-it-all match for the UAAP women’s volleyball crown.

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That was yet another battle for survival that Ateneo had epically pulled out of the fire in five nail-biting sets, thanks chiefly to Valdez and Morente who also pooled their talents earlier to eke out pulsating wins in three you-or-me matches in the stepladders as the Eagles snatched a Finals date with the Archers.

It’s getting to be a habit?

If yes, it’s no surprise because Valdez is the reigning MVP and Morente the best rookie of the season.

Look, La Salle was three points away from winning its fourth straight UAAP crown and Ateneo was four huge points behind at 8-12 in the deciding fifth.

But Valdez and Morente—getting a big lift from Amy Ahomiro’s monumental explosion of three straight points that shoved Ateneo to within 11-12—orchestrated the comeback of the tournament as the Eagles chugged a 17-15 squeaker before 18,000-plus fans rendered virtually hoarse from endless cheering.

And with Ateneo miraculously avoiding the cliff, the two teams are headed today to the so-called street of no return.

Take no prisoners.

No more tomorrow.

Do-or-die.

In two years, La Salle was unbeaten in 30 games—a streak that was part of a mystifying tail end of a four-year romp of the title.

But in its 31st match, La Salle lost to, yes, Ateneo.

La Salle quickly regrouped, beating Ateneo for its 31st win in 32 games in 24 months. Then it lost its 33rd game on Wednesday—to Ateneo again.

And now, it has come down to this: One game for all the so-called marbles.

Ateneo’s Thai coach Tai harks on his “heart strong, be happy” mantra for victory. Tai pins his hopes on Valdez and Morente. And Ahomiro, too.

Still, should Ateneo win, destiny designed it.

(alsol47@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 15, 2014.

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