Valdez powers Ateneo over Cagayan in V-League

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MANILA, Philippines —  Ateneo drew strength anew from power-hitting Alyssa Valdez as it humbled defending champion Cagayan Valley, 17-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-19, to stay in the Final Four hunt in the Shakey’s V-League Season 11 Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan City Sunday night.

Valdez erupted for 24 hits, all coming off attacks in helping propel the Lady Eagles, the reigning UAAP titlists, to their fifth win in as many losses while keeping them in the hunt for a semifinal berth.

It was the Loyola-based lady spikers’ third straight victory after teetering on the brink of elimination with a sputtering 2-5 (win-loss) start.

 The talismanic Valdez credited their resurgence to going back to the basics.

“We were trying so hard we’re starting to forget the basics. So we try to improve on those things and not complicate things that much,” said the 21-year-old Valdez, a proud daughter of San Juan, Batangas.

Amy Ahomiro scattered 12 hits but her presence was felt mostly on the defensive end up front where she has three blocks and several other deflections.

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Aiza Maizo paced the Rising Suns with 20, the bulk of which came in the opening set that it dominated.

It was downhill from there for Cagayan Valley as Valdez started to impose her will and carry Ateneo through.

Valdez’s star shone the most in the third set when she almost singlehandedly carried the Lady Eagles from a 20-24 deficit to a 27-25 set win that gave them a crucial 2-1 lead while breaking the hearts of the Rising Suns.

Cagayan was never the same from there as it just couldn’t find answer to Valdez, who went on a spiking spree to seal Ateneo the win.

The Rising Suns fell to 6-3.

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