In the first game of their title defense, the DLSU Lady Spikers beat the UST Golden Tigresses in five thrilling sets, 25-20, 17-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-8, earlier today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Despite the win, however, the Lady Spikers struggled against the resilient Golden Tigresses. Majoy Baron led the team with 19 points on two service aces to go along with five blocks. UST was able to keep up with the defending champions after Sisi Rondina recorded a game-high of 28 points on attacks in the losing effort.
“Sinabi ko na ‘to sa mga players ko na kung gusto nila manalo, dadaan tayo sa pinaka mahirap na parte ng laro. So hopefully, makapag adjust sila kaagad,” says coach Ramil De jesus as he expects more intense encounters in what will be a tough season.
Even early on
Rondina stepped up immediately for the Golden Tigresses as she provided the first two points of the game with strong attacks. The first set started slow with both teams trading blows, as the two sides reached a deadlock early on, two-all.
The Lady Spikers took advantage of UST’s errors as DLSU went on a 5-0 run. Desiree Cheng and Baron led the team as they dominated the first set and jumped to a 17-10 lead in the middle of the set. Nonetheless, the team from España did not give the Lady Spikers any easy chances as they had DLSU scrambling around the court. Despite the Lasallians struggling in the latter half of the set, they were able to make up for it with their own potent offensive play, and finished the first set on top, 25-20.
In the second set, however, DLSU was not able to carry its momentum from the prior set as both teams traded points but with the Green and White trailing behind. UST’s offensive and defensive game looked more organized than the team from Taft, as the team headed to the first technical timeout (TTO) leading by two points, 8-6.
Alongside Rondina was Milena Alessandrini who proved to be a problem for La Salle on both ends as she scored seven points in the first two sets, as well as blocking numerous attempts by the Lady Spikers to score.
Determined to keep their lead in the set, the Golden Tigresses played with more urgency as they neared the 25-point mark. UST then went on a 4-0 run at the end of the set that would secure the team the second set.
The Golden Tigresses opened the third frame with consecutive attacks from Alessandrini and Dimdim Pacres. Cheng, on the other hand, answered back with an ace followed by a spike to tie the game at four. However, Kianna Dy took over which led to the first technical timeout. La Salle continued their offensive stretch through the efforts of Cheng, Dy, and Baron to lead UST, 16-9.
Despite trailing by seven, the team from España retaliated. Rondina and Caitlin Viray combined for seven points to tie the game at 21 apiece. UST then committed an error while an ace from Baron and a kill from Aduke Ogunsanya closed the set for DLSU, 25-22. La Salle had a total of 16 spikes in the set to go along with six unforced errors from UST.
In the fourth set, though, it was UST that dominated. The Lasallians were scrambling with their floor defense and had quite a number of unforced errors. A collective team effort from UST paved way to a six point lead coming into the first technical timeout. The offensive barrage continued for UST as Rondina continued to be an offensive threat. Conversely, La Salle subbed in May Luna and Justine Tiu for the first time to try and stop the bleeding. However, the Tigresses eventually claimed the set, 25-15, with a ten-point lead. As a result, a deciding set was needed to break the tie.
The final set started out strong for the Green and White. A kill from Baron and a couple of service aces from Cobb, followed by back-to-back errors from UST led to a 5-1 DLSU lead. However, Rondina refused to surrender as she trimmed the lead down to three, 11-8, with help from Alessandrini and Pacres.
Despite the short run, UST’s efforts were halted as DLSU had momentum to claim the victory. Consecutive errors from the Tigresses along with a crosscourt kill from Tiamzon set La Salle to match point. Finally, a block from Cobb against Rondina sealed the game in La Salle’s favor. The sophomore had 37 excellent sets as the team’s official setter replacing Kim Fajardo.
On the absence of Dy in the starting lineup and her limited minutes inside the court, De Jesus explained, “Two weeks ago nagkaroon ng hyperextension sa knee niya pero playable naman siya wag lang muna pwersahin ngayong game. Siguro by next game 100 percent na siya.”
The team will next go up against the UP Lady Maroons on Saturday, February 10 at the FilOil Flying V Center at 4 pm.
DLSU 97 (3) – Baron 19, Cheng 12, Ogunsanya 10, Dy 9, Tiamzon 9, Cobb 6, Layug 2, Luna 2, Tiu 2
UST 100 (2) – Rondina 28, Alessandrini 18, Pacres 6, Bicar 4, Palec 3, Fransisco 2, Viray 1