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UAAP: Lady Spikers record first defeat in Season 84 against streaking Lady Bulldogs

The DLSU Lady Spikers suffered their first drubbing of the season against the NU Lady Bulldogs in three straight sets, 22-25, 15-25, 19-25, earlier today, May 10, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. 

DLSU’s outside hitter Alleiah Malaluan scored 10 points, followed by Jolina Dela Cruz who posted eight points coming from six spikes and two blocks. Middle blocker Thea Gagate recorded two service aces, which was closely followed by team captain and setter Marionne Alba, who made one ace and eight excellent digs. Lady Spikers’ libero Justine Jazareno also had her fair share of 12 excellent digs, with the attempt of connecting her team’s reception and plays. 

NU was led by top scorer Alyssa Solomon with 14 points, with 10 coming from attacks. National team stalwart Michaela Belen and team captain Princess Robles were also in double figures with 13 and 12 markers, respectively. Jennifer Nierva exemplified her status as a spectacular libero with 16 excellent receptions and 11 digs for the Lady Bulldogs. 

Rattled from the start

After two impressive victories against the ADMU Blue Eagles and the AdU Lady Falcons to start the season, the Lady Spikers came in scorching hot in the first set, courtesy of three successive points from Malaluan. The team entered the first technical timeout ahead, 8-5. In the initial stages of the match, it was a quick exchange of points before Belen’s three-point run forced De Jesus to call an early timeout, 10-8.

The Lady Bulldogs continued to rattle off numerous attacks before Sheena Toring magnified her impact as her exceptional hit kept NU ahead, 16-11, heading into the second technical timeout. After a Belen error, the Lady Bulldogs gave the Lady Spikers a chance to stay alive in the first set, 22-21. 

Lady Bulldogs head coach Carl Dimaculangan was forced to call his second timeout of the set, but NU successfully took the set after two service errors committed by Julia Coronel and Malaluan, 25-22.

At the end of the first set, the Lady Bulldogs recorded 14 errors, which benefited La Salle. Nevertheless, Lady Bulldogs Robles and Solomon also played superbly from the get go. Entering today’s match, NU led the league in spikes, recording 12 attack points in the opening set.

Dreadful performance 

Attempting to recover from the first set, the Lady Spikers toughened up their defense through back-to-back blocks by Gagate and Dela Cruz, giving DLSU a 2-1 lead. This was followed by a service ace from Gagate. However, NU answered back with a quick play from middle blocker Lacsina, 5-3. The Green-and-White struggled with their defense and coverage, allowing NU middle blocker Toring to convert an overreceived ball by Jazareno, putting the Lady Bulldogs in the lead heading into the set’s first technical timeout, 8-7. 

The Taft-based squad failed to convert any of their offensive plays and maintained their poor reception, allowing Solomon to block Dela Cruz’s attack and extending NU’s lead to two, 9-7. DLSU’s overreceiving and attack errors from Gagate gave the Lady Bulldogs a seven-point lead heading into the second technical timeout, 16-9. 

NU showed consistency from the service line with Solomon managing to commit two back-to-back aces, widening the gap to 10 points, 20-10. However, Ynna Hatulan attempted to stop the bleeding with a forceful block at the net, cutting down NU’s lead to seven, 20-13. Erin May Pangilinan immediately answered back as she converted back-to-back attacks at the net, increasing her team’s lead to nine, 23-14. The second set ended with a solid hit by Toring, 25-15. 

NU recovered from having zero blocks in the first set—adjusting their defense—and garnered a total of five blocks in the second. 

Lackluster execution 

The continuous lackadaisical receiving of the Lady Spikers persisted in the third set. The sharp serves of Belen and Solomon were on full display all throughout, Solomon’s serve ushering the Lady Bulldogs into the first technical timeout with an early four-point lead, 8-4. It did not stop there as the Lady Bulldogs continued their success with Belen on the service line as a spectacular ace gave them the advantage, 10-5.

A lucky bounce on a miscommunication by NU gave La Salle a realistic chance to stay alive in the game as the lead was cut down to two, 13-11. But the Lady Bulldogs regrouped quickly, producing consecutive spikes from Belen and Solomon and giving them the lead, 16-12. Setter Camille Lamina mixed it up in the latter part of the third set, utilizing Lacsina and Toring to keep La Salle from making a comeback. But Malaluan’s spike went long, giving the final points to NU and ending the match, 25-19.

At the end of the match, the Lady Spikers tallied a total of 26 errors in three sets—as evidenced by their disarray in the game. 

Among the factors of their dismal performance, the abysmal receiving was not the only issue for the Green-and-White; blocking was also lacking. Gagate and Fifi Sharma were unable to impose their size on the outside hitters of NU who flourished in the game, allowing the Lady Bulldogs to record 40 attack points all throughout the match.

Composed of mostly young guns on the roster, this loss can be a lesson for the Lady Spikers in their journey toward reclaiming the crown. 

The DLSU Lady Spikers aim to return to the winning column on Thursday, May 12, as they face the UST Golden Tigresses at 6 pm at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. 

The Scores: 

DLSU 56 – Malaluan 10, Dela Cruz 8, Gagate 3, Soreño 3, Sharma 2, Cruz 2, Alba 1, Hatulan 1

NU 75 – Solomon 14, Belen 13, Robles 12, Toring 9, Lacsina 5, Pangilinan 2, Arroyo 1

Set Scores – 22-25, 15-25, 19-25

By Tana Melgar

By Diego Vergel de Dios

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