Lady Spikers’ blocking denies Ateneo, inches closer to back-to-back crown

DLSU’s blocking is back.Photo by Kristine Barreiro

The DLSU Lady Spikers tallied 12 block kills to seize Game 2 of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals’ series against the Ateneo Lady Eagles last Saturday, February 25.

Home of the last four league’s top blockers in the past five seasons, including back-to-back Best Blocker Michelle Gumabao, the Lady Spikers reconstructed their blocking to neutralize the Blue-and-White’s vaunted firepower; the Green-and-White erected a 23-25, 25-21, 26-24 and 25-18 victory in the San Juan Arena.

“Nung Game 1 kasi medyo nag-collapse yung blocking namin, ngayon medyo naging maganda yung blocking (In Game 1, our blocking collapsed, but now our blocking is better),” Lady Spikers mentor Ramil de Jesus shared.

After being held to a single block in Game 1, reigning Best Blocker Gumabao returned with four more denials; she top scored for the Ladies from Taft with 18 points, 12 from attacks, five blocks and one service ace.

It was another blocking party for the defending champions and Best Blocking team converting 12 out of 90 attempts into instant points, against the meager two from Ateneo.

Rookie of the Year and Best Server Ara Galang and Team Captain Cha Cruz backstopped Gumabao with 12 markers each. Other rookie Mika Reyes had 11 points while Season Most Valuable Player (MVP) Aby Maraño had a measly seven.

The win tied the two universities with 1-1 match apiece, but the thrice-to-beat incentive of the Lady Spikers from sweeping the eliminations sends them a game away from defending their title.

Turning Game one upside down

After experiencing their first loss of the season in four sets in the Finals series, the Lady Spikers returned the favor to its collegiate rival the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles with a same four-setter win.

The girls in Green yielded the first set behind Ateneo’s rookie sensation Alyssa Valdez’s seven markers out of her total 24.

Gumabao and Galang then ganged up to snatch the second frame with efficient production in offense and defense.

The Lady Eagles returned strong hiking a 17-11 third set lead.

But the Green-and-White Squad cut the deficit and pulled a comeback capped by a Cruz kill before two fearless service aces from Reyes.

“Adjustment is yung heart, puso ng champion, sabi namin kailangan nandun yung angas, nandun lahat ng determination bawat isa sa players naming (Adjustment is the heart, the heart of champions, we said amongst ourselves that we needed the angst; we also agreed that each player needs to bring in her determination.)” Gumabao added.

The entrance of back-up crew Denice Tan, Diemmy Tatlonghari and second setter Carmela Garbin also held the fort in crucial stages of the match, especially in the second and third set.

The fourth set showed a frustrated Ateneo Squad—the exact same situation the Lady Spikers in the fourth set of game one where it committed one error after another.

The Lady Spikers packed with renewed confidence and swagger, took advantage, and ended the 111-minute encounter via consecutive kills from Galang.

With one game to win for the championship, Coach Ramil de Jesus still has some fine-tuning to do saying, “Nakita namin yung mga unforced errors, so siguro maminimize pa yung unforced errors [in Game 3] (We saw that we had unforced errors; we can still minimize those unforced errors).”

Other individual awardees in the women’s division include Best Scorer Rose Marie Vargas (FEU), Best Setter Gyzelle Sy (FEU), Best Digger Christine Agno (FEU), Best Receiver Angelica Vasquez (Adamson) and Best Spiker Maika Ortiz (UST).

Game 1 was the Lady Spikers’ first virtual setback since 2010.

More photos at The LaSallian’s facebook page. Game 1 | Game 2.

Charles Usi

By Charles Usi

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