In this sixth straight finals matchup between the DLSU Lady Spikers and the ADMU Lady Eagles, there is little room for surprises. Save for the changing personnel and the ADMU coaching change from Roger Gorayeb to Tai Bundit, the strategies and the all-out passion exhibited by the faithful from both universities have remained the same. However, Game 2 of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals, which will unfold at 4 pm tomorrow, May 6, in the Smart Araneta Coliseum, will present varying outcomes for both protagonists.
A DLSU win on Saturday will give the Lady Spikers back-to-back titles and their 10th UAAP championship under head coach Ramil De Jesus. It will also be the perfect sendoff for graduating setter Kim Fajardo, who decided to play out her final year in hopes of bringing another title to Taft. Should ADMU win in Game 2, both teams will go through a winner-take-all Game 3 on May 10 in the same venue, adding another chapter to the most thrilling rivalry in Philippine collegiate sports.
La Salle draws first blood in Game 1
ADMU seemed like the more composed team during the opening moments of Game 1, but DLSU remained aggressive from the first until the fourth set. The Lasallians emerged with a 21-25, 29-27, 25-22, 25-20 victory that not only gave the Lady Spikers their first win over the Lady Eagles in Season 79, but also put the Green-and-White within one win of a second consecutive UAAP championship.
Tin Tiamzon, Kim Dy, Desiree Cheng, and Fajardo bucked slow starts to finish Game 1 in double figures. Tiamzon led DLSU with 15 points, while Dy, last season’s Finals MVP (Most Valuable Player), scored 14 points in the win. Cheng, who missed the 2016 season with a knee injury, rounded out the double figure scorers with Fajardo as both contributed 10 points.
Jho Maraguinot led all scorers with 16 points, while Bea De Leon and Michelle Morente of ADMU added 14 and 11 points, respectively. Jia Morado also added 46 excellent sets to her five-point tally in Game 1.
Drive for 10
Errors nearly doomed the Lady Spikers at the start of Game 1 and for them to win Game 2, they will need to strike a balance between being aggressive on offense and controlling the power on their attacks. The latter parts of the opening finals game were proof that DLSU could find ways to adjust to the onslaught brought on by their toughest rivals, but it still finished with 40 errors, six more than the 34 posted by ADMU.
As both teams have more than a handful of capable scorers, a balanced scoring attack will serve as a critical factor on who will emerge victorious in Game 2. Everyone who played in all four sets for La Salle scored at least seven points in the game, while ADMU’s lowest scorer in four sets, Kat Tolentino, finished Game 1 with two points. Beyond the stats, getting every Lady Spiker involved on both ends of the court will lessen the holes that the Lady Eagles can exploit.
Finally, in-game adjustments will be the difference between La Salle raising the trophy and having to play one more game next week. De Jesus and Bundit have faced each other in 10 finals matches and six regular season games, so by now, both are familiar with one another. What will set them apart from the other is how they will work on their in-game adjustments and playing to the breaks of the game.
Prior to Game 2, three Lady Spikers will receive awards for their efforts throughout the season, with Majoy Baron set to receive the MVP trophy for Season 79, the first time a DLSU player will receive the award since Aby Marano and Ara Galang were named co-MVPs in 2013.
Fajardo will receive her third Best Setter and first Server awards, while Dawn Macandili will be formally awarded as the Best Receiver for Season 79.
ADMU will also have an awardee in Jules Samonte, who will receive the Season 79 Rookie of the Year award.
Saturday could be the final game of the UAAP Season 79 Volleyball tournament, a development that the Lasallian community wants to have. A win for La Salle will mark the second consecutive year that the Lady Spikers send off a senior with a title, and one that will further solidify De Jesus’ place as the elite coach in Philippine collegiate volleyball.
ADMU is now hoping to play the role of spoiler, since the Ateneans want to extend their season and remain in the hunt for their third UAAP Volleyball title in four years. Regardless of which team emerges victorious tomorrow, the never-ending saga of the ADMU-La Salle rivalry will only continue.