Mission accomplished. The three-peat has been repeated before a 19,000-strong crowd.
The DLSU Lady Spikers notched La Salle’s third straight title after sweeping the Ateneo Lady Eagles in straight sets, 25-23, 25-20,25-16 last March 6 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Mika Reyes scored a game-high 16 points and tallied seven blocks while Season 75 co-MVPs Team Captain Abi Marano and Ara Galang scored 12 points apiece.
Finals MVP Michelle Gumabao had an efficient game with six points and a service ace to wrap DLSU’s attempt to end Ateneo’s bid early.
Lady Spikers Coach Ramil de Jesus explained, “Ayaw na namin humabol [from a deficit] kagaya noong Saturday. So sabi ko sa mga bata kailangan [na natin matapos] itong series.”
On the other side of the court, Season 75 Best Scorer Alyssa Valdez scored a team-high of 14 points for the Lady Eagles with no other player to score in double figures.
Notching the crown
After denying a couple of Ateneo comeback attempts in the first two sets, the Lady Spikers finally went full throttle entering the final set.
Both teams exchanged shots in the early going, but Ateneo took control after managing a 9-6 advantage after a series of Cainglet attacks.La Salle then sparked a 15-3 run, which sealed the game for good with Wensh Tiu blocking Dzi Gervacio’s spike attempt en route to the crown.
Many thought that the Lady Spiker’s three-peat quest would be in serious jeopardy after La Salle’s season opener setback against the UST Tigresses. Since the loss, the ladies from Taft have continued to dominate every single meet they had to end the elimination round with a 13-game winning streak en route to a championship berth.
Coach De Jesus later on acknowledged his team’s willingness to learn, saying, “Kung minimized namin ang unforced errors, madali lang siguro mga panalo namin.”
Fulfillment for the captain
After former Team Captain Cha Cruz exhausted all of her playing years, Abi Marano had a really big hole to fill.
This season, the Season 75 MVP and Best Blocker averaged succession rates of 35.85 percent per set on spikes and led the league with a 0.92 percent average per set on blocks.
Aside from filling up the stat sheets with efficiency, Marano served as the bridge between her teammates and coaches.
She shared, “To be a [Team] Captain is tough because you also have to be captain for yourself. Kailangan mo madaanan ‘yung mga iba’t-ibang personality ng mga teammates mo, [and] yung boss [ng team] mo with Coach [De Jesus]. Kailangan matuto kang makinig para matuto rin ang mga tao. Iyon ang pinakachallenge, ‘yung maging bridge from the coach to the players kasi ikaw yung Team Captain.”
Among the ladies who contributed to the three-peat, Michelle Gumabao is arguably one of the most experienced. She started playing with current Captain Abigail Marano since their rookie season. After Cha Cruz left the Lady Spikers, Gumabao also shared the leadership role with co-senior Spiker Marano.
As the best blocker of season 73 and 74, Gumabao has established her name in collegiate volleyball.
Gumabao shared, “This whole season was a very successful season for us at super thankful kami na this season walang injured. Grabe yung blessing sa amin this season. Our first loss was our lesson at sabi namin na hindi kami matatalo after ng game na iyon.”
The rest is history
With another season and another championship added into his resume, Coach De Jesus hopes to continue the Lady Spikers’ winning tradition. Even though the team will lose graduating players libero Melissa Gohing and open spiker Wensh Tiu, the team will still have its core intact next year composed of veterans Gumabao and Marano alongside with their young guns in Reyes and Galang.
Coach De Jesus ended, “Actually wala ako masabi sa kanila. So sabi ko lang let me coach them and follow my instructions.”