“Wag madaliin ang receive ng bola,” coach Onyok Getigan reminded the Lady Falcons as he burned a timeout in the first set. After taking an early four-point lead to begin the game, the Lady Falcons suddenly found themselves staring at a 10-point deficit, something which remained a trend for the rest of the match.
Pace became the name of the game as Ateneo used their size and athletic ability to gain control of and win most of the rallies. Meanwhile, the Lady Falcons were left with their wit, creativity and determination to at the very least put up a challenge against a team that was on a four-game win streak.
The Lady Falcons were well aware of Ateneo’s size advantage and did their best to prepare for it, devising a strategy that would revolve around forcing their opponent to keep up with a wider variety of attacks. It worked, for a while.
After dropping the first set 8-25, the Lady Falcons pulled together and started changing up their modes of attack. Team veteran Mary Joy Dacoron anchored their offense through her signature running spike, a weapon she used to give the Lady Falcons the lead at 11-10 in the second set.
As the second set came to a close, it was a combination of Joy Dacoron blocking at the net, Bernadette Flora attacking from the back row and Eli Soyud denying Kat Tolentino’s spikes that brought Adamson to set point.
Coming off a timeout wherein coach Onyok reminded their attackers to change up their attacks and work out more combinations, it was open spiker Chiara Permentilla who went up for the ball at the left of the net, only to slice it to an open spot to the right near the net, just out of reach from any of the Ateneo players for set point.
It was a brief moment of triumph for the Lady Falcons, but an inability to score on long rallies despite the stellar floor defense of Tonnie Rose Ponce resulted in Ateneo taking the next two sets.
The Lady Falcons will need to learn from this loss quickly as they face yet another Final Four contender in the UP Lady Maroons on Sunday.