The DLSU Lady Spikers took game one of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals and are one game away from claiming their 11th championship title after successfully defeating the FEU Lady Tamaraws in three straight sets, 29-27, 25-21, 25-22, last Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Kim Dy led La Salle the victory after contributing 10 points, eight of those coming from attacks. Meanwhile, Dawn Macandili stopped FEU from converting attack points as she was able to successfully receive 13 of her 21 attempts and prevented the ball from touching the floor as she produced 24 excellent digs.
As for FEU, it was Heather Guino-o who tallied 14 points, having nine successful attacks and four excellent blocks. Kyle Negrito also contributed to FEU’s offense with 17 excellent sets in the losing effort.
May Luna tallied a nine-point game off the bench which seemed to be a huge contribution for the Green-and-White, especially during the final set. “Ayoko na mawala yung tiwala niya [De Jesus] sa akin pag ipapasok niya ako,” Luna said after delivering a stellar performance. (I don’t want him to lose trust in me, especially when he makes me play.)
La Salle had its defense going early-on as Aduke Ogunsanya and Majoy Baron solidified the frontline. The Lasallians managed to come up with a six-point lead before the first technical timeout. The only points the Tamaraws had came from a couple of errors from Desiree Cheng and a service ace from Negrito.
Despite the early advantage, FEU remained composed and managed to keep at striking distance. A long rally during La Salle’s 11th point off a kill from Tin Tiamzon brought about screams from the crowd. This proved to be a momentum boost for the Lady Spikers but the Tamaraws slowly clawed their way back.
As the set was coming to its crucial stages, team captain Bernadeth Pons took over and ignited a 5-1 run with a couple of aces and a kill. The Tamaraws tied the game at 18 apiece but errors seemed to be a pivotal turning point from the Morayta-based squad. La Salle capitalized on the service and offensive errors of FEU to push for a match point with a two-point lead.
However, veteran hitter Chinchin Basas displayed her offensive prowess and scored through back-to-back spikes. Eventually, FEU managed to get consecutive set points courtesy of an ace from Negrito and drop ball from Pons, but service errors again halted the Tamaraws from getting ahead of the defending champions. Finally, a cross-court kill from Tiamzon and another error from Negrito gave the hard-fought set to DLSU, 29-27.
Heading in to the second set, despite dropping the previous set, the FEU Lady Tamaraws generated an early advantage via a four point scoring run by way of offensive efforts from Guino-o, Pons, and Celine Domingo. This was quickly overturned however after Michelle Cobb and Ogunsanya garnered points from spikes, blocks, and aces which gave DLSU a narrow lead of one point by the end of the first technical timeout.
The Lady Spikers continued to build their momentum as Dy and Baron maintained the pressure on FEU’s blockers, forcing the Lady Tamaraws to give attack points to La Salle. The lead of the Lasallians continued to rise as their opponent committed several unforced errors which also dampened the chances of the latter in attempting to make a rebound and take the set from the former.
FEU tried one more time to mount a comeback in the closing moments of the second set after DLSU was two points away from attaining a two to nothing set advantage. Luna, however, gave the Lady Spikers the set point after cracking a hole in FEU’s defense and converting the point from a spike kill. It was Cobb who then secured the two set edge over the Lady Tamaraws after converting a point from a service ace.
After a garnering a two-set advantage, the Lasallians seemed eager to take the first game of the Finals. However, FEU was still not out of the frame. The Tamaraws retaliated and raced to an 8-3 lead early in the third chapter featured by three consecutive blocks.
La Salle quickly answered and tied the game at 9-9 through open spikers Tiamzon and Luna. The duo combined for 17 points in the winning effort The Green-and-White finally regained the lead heading into the second technical timeout when a crosscourt kill from Dy sparked a 4-1 run.
The Lasallians continued to build their lead through their orchestrated attacks. Crucial errors from Pons and Carly Hernandez lead to a 23-21 lead for DLSU. Ultimately, a kill from Norielle Ipac set the Lady Spikers to match point and a service ace sealed the match in favor of La Salle, 25-22
In the perspective of attack points, the Lady Tamaraws outscored the Lady Spikers as DLSU only managed to score 29 points compared to the 37 points of FEU. The Morayta-based squad also had a slight advantage in the service ace department as they generated six aces while the Taft-based squad had five.
The same cannot be said however for the defensive standpoint as the La Salle managed to outhustle FEU in blocks, digs and receptions. It is also notable that the Lady Tamaraws gave up 34 points to Lady Spikers due to unforced errors.
“Susi lang dito ay mag-tiyaga, wag tayo mag-give up ng kahit anong situation kung ano man yan basta ang importante ay wag tayo mag-give up,” said head coach Ramil De Jesus when asked how he motivated his players in the final stretch. DLSU will be looking to defeat FEU and claim the illustrious UAAP Championship as they face once more at the same venue on Wednesday, May 2. (The key is to persevere, never give up in any situation, what’s important is to not give up.)
DLSU: (3) – Dy 10, Luna 9, Baron 8, Tiamzon 8, Cobb 4, Ogunsanya 3, Cheng 2, Layug 1
FEU: (0) – Guino-o 14, Pons 9, Domingo 8, Basas 6, Negrito 4, Carandang 4, Malabanan 2, Villareal 2