After concluding the UAAP Season 79 Women’s Volleyball Tournament in second place with an 11-3 win-loss standing, the DLSU Lady Spikers are set to face the UST Golden Tigresses anew in the Final Four. As a result of its second place finish in the elimination round, La Salle will hold a twice-to-beat advantage over third-seeded UST, which finished with a 9-5 record.
Elimination round encounters
Based on elimination round results alone, the upper hand would have to be given to the Lasallians. The Lady Spikers swept their elimination round games over the Golden Tigresses last February 11 and March 29, both at the FilOil Flying V Arena.
La Salle took a 25-23, 16-25, 25-14, 25-22 victory behind Kim Kianna Dy and Tin Tiamzon in the first round. Kim Fajardo proved to be instrumental as she dictated La Salle’s offense with 39 excellent sets. Dy recorded 16 points on 11 attacks and five blocks while Tiamzon finished with 14 points from nine attacks, two blocks, and three aces. On the other side, Sisi Rondina and EJ Laure paced UST with 13 points each.
Although the team from Espana gained an advantage over DLSU on errors and spikes, 32-23 and 54-39, the Thomasians were outmatched in the remaining scoring categories and fell short in their comeback. The Green-and-White finished with 10 blocks as compared to only four from the Golden Tigresses and gained a 10-3 advantage on aces.
“Nakita namin yung kapit nila sa fourth set,” La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus said after the game.
In the second round, the Green-and-White clinched a straight-set victory over UST, 25-23, 25-22, 25-21, despite losing Dy in the latter stages of the game due to a minor ankle injury. Des Cheng displayed her improved play in the second round with a 13-point performance from nine attacks and three aces. The Lasallians took control of the game and gained an advantage on all three scoring skills, but had to fend off another Thomasian comeback.
“Hindi naman sobra kami nagadjust [to losing Dy], parang napapractice namin. May rotations talaga na minsan pinapalitan sila, minsan hindi, so feeling ko normal lang yun,” Cheng explained on playing without Dy for majority of the final set.
The Lasallians concluded their elimination round campaign with a four-set loss to archrivals, the ADMU Lady Eagles, last April 8 in the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Although they dominated the first set, they failed to sustain momentum and fell, 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 25-19.
Dy paced La Salle anew with 15 points on 14 attacks as Cheng finished with 15 points. Michelle Morente and Bea De Leon led the way for the Lady Eagles with 14 points each. The Lasallians were unable to contain Jules Samonte late in the game as she sparked ADMU’s offense with 10 points and finished as the Player of the Game.
On the other hand, the Golden Tigresses are coming off a thrilling five-set victory over the NU Lady Bulldogs. The Thomasians surrendered the first two sets, but their resilient efforts allowed them to take the match and book a seat in the Final Four, 20-25, 19-25, 25-22, 25-21, 15-12. Lady Bulldog Jaja Santiago finished with 30 points on 25 attacks and four service aces, but her efforts were outmatched by Sisi Rondina and EJ Laure. The UST duo went on to finished with a combined 44 points behind an energetic Thomasian crowd.
The extended break as a result from Holy Week may prove to be helpful to the Lady Spikers as they once again seek to regain their rhythm and confidence coming off a loss to the Lady Eagles.
La Salle and UST will square off tomorrow, Saturday, April 22, at 4 pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.