After winning their virtual best-of-three semifinals match up against the ADMU Lady Eagles, the DLSU Lady Spikers trounced the FEU Lady Tamaraws in the finals to bag their first UAAP Beach Volleyball title since the tournament’s inception in 2006.
The trio of Cyd Demecillo, MVP Kim Fajardo, and Ernestine Tiamzon won nine of their next 11 games after dropping their tournament opener also to the Lady Tamaraws, clinching the championship after finishing last season in second place behind UST.
Do or die
The Taft-Katipunan rivalry was again rekindled as the DLSU Lady Spikers took on the duo of Alyssa Valdez and Bea Tan in a virtual best-of-three series, with La Salle winning two games to one.
Fresh off a win against the defending champions UST, the Lady Spikers started out strong against Ateneo, matching their offense with stingy defense. The first set was tightly fought from the get-go until a service error from Tan ignited a 4-0 run for DLSU that gave them a 14-9 lead. From there, the Lady Spikers went on to win the set, 21-16.
DLSU started strong again in the second set as Ateneo continued to respond to their runs. The Lady Eagles cranked up their offense, but with the Lady Spikers’ good placements on defense, La Salle was able to hold them off again. It was a tightly fought set with both teams trading points, runs, and leads. The game would go down the wire but a top spin from Fajardo finished the set and allowed DLSU to come away with the victory, 21-19.
Needing only one more win to book themselves a ticket to the Finals, La Salle could not overcome Ateneo in the second game, falling in straight sets, 21-16, 24-22. In the first set, both teams started strong but despite an early run from DLSU, ADMU emerged with the lead. Valdez’s offensive prowess was too much for La Salle to handle as the reigning UAAP Season 77 Indoor Volleyball MVP put up a barrage of spikes. At the 15-14 mark of the set, the Lady Eagles came up with a 4-0 run to pull away and win the set, 21-16.
The second set started with both teams trading points and despite La Salle’s effort on defense, Valdez continued to rack up the points. Repeated service errors also proved to be fatal for La Salle, giving Ateneo the advantage. The Lady Spikers tried to respond to Ateneo’s run with their own offense. However, their errors were too much to overcome. With ADMU holding a 20-18 lead and a chance to finish the game, DLSU came from behind, scoring three straight points, two of which were caused by errors from Ateneo. The Lady Eagles, however, still came away with the set 24-22, forcing sudden death.
When Demecillo was asked about what they needed to improve on to win the deciding game, she said that they needed to minimize their errors, specifically service errors.
The third game against ADMU saw the Lady Spikers triumph in three sets, 20-22, 21-14, 16-14. The Lady Eagles raced to a two-point advantage early in the first set. The two teams continued their rally with DLSU trailing Ateneo by a few points and eventually, the Lady Spikers went on a 4-1 run to tie the score at 17. However, Valdez immediately scored two consecutive points to give Ateneo a 19-17 advantage. In the end, the Lady Eagles secured the first set with a score of 22-20.
La Salle acquired a three-point lead at the start of the second set after completing a 6-3 run. Good ball placements and power shots were made by the players from both teams, with Ateneo slowly trying to close the gap. The Lady Spikers maintained their lead and clinched the set with a well-placed soft tap by Demecillo, 21-14.
Valdez opened the scoring in the third set with a service ace that was quickly followed by three consecutive scores from DLSU, giving La Salle a 3-1 lead. The Lady Spikers protected their lead until Ateneo made a 5-0 run, tying the score at 9-all. In the end, La Salle won with two consecutive points from Demecillo’s attack and an error made by Valdez, 16-14, clinching the victory and the last seat in the finals.
Road to the crown
The first finals match between DLSU and FEU lasted three sets, with the Lady Spikers coming out as the victors, 21-17, 16-21, 15-12. In the first set, both teams kept the scores close but at 17-all, DLSU scored four consecutive points to win the set, 21-17.
Another close match occurred during the second set but the gap between the scores would slowly become wider as La Salle was unable to score while the Lady Tamaraws had the game’s momentum in their favor. FEU won the set, 21-16, with two successive points from Kyla Atienza’s drop and a reception error on the part of DLSU.
The Lady Spikers started out strong early in the third set, gaining a three-point lead against FEU. The Lady Tamaraws tried to close the gap with their smart plays but La Salle kept its distance with their own counterattacks. An attack through the middle by Demecillo finished the set and match with a score of 15-12, in favor of DLSU.
Game two of the finals round was won by La Salle in straight sets, 21-16, 25-23. In the early parts of the first set, both teams traded points and snatched the lead from each other. Near the end of the set, however, the Lady Spikers pulled away at 16-all after scoring five consecutive points to win the set, 21-16.
FEU gradually trimmed the lead throughout the second set and eventually tied the score at 16-all. The deadlock between the two teams continued as both teams were tied at 23 later in the set. The Lady Spikers finally broke away with two consecutive points, winning both the match and the championship with a final score of 25-23 in the second set.
With the win, the Lady Spikers were hailed as the Beach Volleyball tournament champions of UAAP Season 78, followed by FEU and ADMU in second and third place, respectively. Fajardo was also named as the women’s division MVP for Season 78, while NU’s Jasmine Nabor was adjudged as this season’s Rookie of the Year.