UAAP: Lady Spikers victorious over Fighting Maroons after a three-set sweep

Coming off from a win against the UE Lady Warriors, the DLSU Lady Spikers routed the UP Fighting Maroons in three sets,  25-12, 25-17, 25-19, earlier today, May 17, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Outside hitter Alleiah Malaluan led the Lady Spikers’ winning effort, scoring 16 points including a service ace and five excellent receives. Middle blocker Fifi Sharma also stood out, contributing 10 points and three blocks. Librero Justine Jazareno remained solid for the Lady Spikers, tallying 12 excellent digs and 11 excellent receptions. Veteran Marionne Alba also stood out with 15 excellent sets in the outing.

Despite their loss, Niña Ytang of the Fighting Maroons led her team in scoring with eight markers in addition to six excellent digs. Their second leading scorer was Joan Monares who had five points.

Sustaining the momentum  

The team from Taft opened the first set strong and kept their steady momentum from the last match. UP’s error-plagued play gave the Lady Spikers two straight points after opening the game with a block, 2-1. However, rookie hitter Alyssa Bertolano answered back with a down-the-line hit to tie the game at 2-all. 

DLSU then showcased their effective defense and service aces to gain a lead early on, 6-3. Sharma went on to chip in back-to-back points with a quick attack set up by Alba and a block against UP. Leila Cruz then scored a service ace to cap DLSU’s run and gave the Lady Spikers a four-point lead, 7-3. UP managed to pull closer by garnering points off consecutive attack errors from Malaluan and Sharma, and a service ace from Bertolano,  cutting DLSU’S lead, 7-6.  Immediately after, Malaluan scored off an attack and gave DLSU an 8-6 lead heading into the first technical timeout in the first set.

DLSU controlled the opening frame by successfully dissecting UP’s defense and with team captain Alba perfectly setting up her spikers.  Both Sharma and Thea Gagate scored off quick attacks, 18-9, while rookie sensation Malaluan scored three points via offspeed hits. The Taft-based squad eventually won the opening set, 25-12, after going on a 17-6 run. 

Asserting dominance

DLSU carried over their stellar offense from the first set on to the second.  Veteran setter Alba utilized the height of Cruz, Malaluan, and Jolina Dela Cruz to give them the early advantage over their shorter opponents from Diliman. On the defensive end, the Lady Spikers’ defense got in the heads of the Fighting Maroons—who struggled with their attacks in what was another error-riddled set for the UP squad. Entering the first technical timeout of the second set, DLSU convincingly held the advantage, 8-3. 

The Diliman-based squad seemed to finally find their footing afterward, earning two straight points, but Malaluan answered with a power tip, 9-5. The two sides swiftly exchanged points as DLSU led, 12-8. Head coach Ramil de Jesus decided to call a timeout, which swung the set in favor of DLSU. La Salle’s blockers intimidated the Fighting Maroons at the net, while others played excellent floor defense. The Green-and-White entered the second technical timeout of the set with a comfortable seven-point lead, 16-9.

The Taft-based squad seemed poised to win the second set with ease, cruising to set point at 24-14, soliciting several errors from the Fighting Maroons. However the Lady Spikers uncharacteristically committed three straight errors and could not seem to close the set before Sharma rose up for a quick attack in the middle to assertively give DLSU the second set, 25-17.

Closing out

UP head coach Godfrey Okumu surprisingly benched his prized rookie Bertolano to open the third set. Despite missing a leading scorer, Gayo started the final set with a service ace to give the Fighting Maroons a 1-0 lead. Gagate then answered back with a pair of quick hits in the middle to snatch the 2-1 score for DLSU. However, both Dela Cruz and Gagate committed errors afterward to give the opponent a two point lead, 4-2, at the early stages of the third set. But the Green-and-White regained the lead  courtesy of UP’s error, followed by a service ace from Gagate, heading into the first technical timeout of the third set, 8-6. 

Despite trailing by two sets, UP showed heart as they defended DLSU’s hitters and converted points off successful attacks. Lorie Bernardo scored a block point in the third set to tie the score at 9-all. However, it was Malaluan again who thwarted  UP’s run via a powerful backrow attack to put DLSU up once again, 13-10.  The Fighting Maroons kept themselves in the game by scoring off the block after being down by three points, 13-11. Ytang scored off the block and a cross-court attack to inch closer to the Lady Spikers. Stephanie Bustrillo then scored back-to-back with a down-the-line hit and a block to trim the lead to one, 15-14, in favor of DLSU. But Cruz then sent the Lady Spikers to the second technical timeout with a powerful spike, 16-14. 

Sharma scored back-to-back points for the Green-and-White with a block and quick hit down the middle to extend the lead, 19-15. As the lead of DLSU ballooned, Okumu called for a timeout that proved useful as  Bernardo responded with a point off an overreceived ball from DLSU to trim the lead to three, 19-16. In the next play, UP committed a service error, followed by Malaluan who scored on a back-row attack to extend their lead to five, 21-16.

But after Ytang scored over the towering blockers of La Salle, De Jesus called a timeout with the Lady Spikers leading, 21-17. Gagate then responded with a quick attack, followed by another back row attack from Malaluan to maintain a four-point lead, 23-19. Cruz then closed out the third set with a block, 25-19, to give the Lady Spikers their fourth win of the season.

Moving forward

On her standout rookie season, outside hitter Malaluan talked about the mentality she tries to maintain as she continues to perform well in each game, “Mindset ko lang bibigay ko ‘yung best ko para makatulong sa team. Syempre hindi [kami] papayag na [matalo].”

(My mindset is just to give my best so that I can help the team. Of course we won’t allow that we lose to our competitors.)

Jazareno also shared a few words about her responsibility, “Siguro tinanggap ko din ‘yung responsibility as a libero and ‘yung trust ng coaches sa’kin na every game, walang babagsak na bola.”

(I’d say that I accepted the responsibility as a libero and the trust that the coaches give me every game to ensure that no ball falls to the ground.)

Despite the recent success of the Lady Spikers, coach Benson Bocboc remains focused on the challenges ahead, “Meron pa tayong gustong iabot na standard. We still need to push kahit sinong kalaban.”

(There’s still a standard that we want to reach. We still need to push regardless of who we are facing.)

With this victory, the DLSU Lady Spikers will see their record increase to four wins and two losses this season. They will be looking to end the first round on a high note against the FEU Lady Tamaraws on Thursday, May 19, at 6 pm at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

The Scores: 

DLSU – Malaluan 16, Sharma 10, Cruz 7, Gagate 7, Dela Cruz 5, Alba 2, Coronel 0, Soreño 0

UP – Ytang 8, Monares 5, Bertolano 4, Arce 3, Bernardo 3, Bustrillo 2, Atienza 1, Jaboneta 1, Sotomil 1, Encarnacion 0 

Set Scores – 25-12, 25-17, 25-19

Diego Manzano

By Diego Manzano

Raphael Serrano

By Raphael Serrano

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