UAAP: Lady Spikers avoid late-game comeback, outlast Lady Tamaraws in four sets

Despite an incredibly shaky third set, the DLSU Lady Spikers bagged their fifth win of the season after defeating the FEU Lady Tamaraws in a four-set match, 25-7, 25-12, 22-25, 25-11, earlier today, May 19, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. The team from Taft now holds a 5-2 win-loss record at the end of the first round of the UAAP Season 84 Women’s Volleyball tournament.

Opposite hitter Alleiah Malaluan spearheaded the Lady Spikers attack once again with 16 points from 15 attacks and a service ace. Middle blockers Thea Gagate and Mereophe Sharma also chipped in 14 and 13 markers, respectively, while team captain Marrione Alba had 14 excellent sets.

Despite their loss, the FEU Lady Tamaraws scoring was led by Chenie Tagaod who garnered 11 points, closely followed by Shiela Kiseo who recorded nine. Team captain and veteran Lycha Ebon gave her team six points, while setter Christine Ubaldo performed eight excellent sets. 

Quick start 

The first set opened with a long rally between both teams, but it was Gagate who secured the opening point with a quick play from setter Alba, 1-0. However, the Lady Tamaraws’ Tagaod immediately answered back with a solid spike, tying the game at 1-all. Rookie hitter Malaluan executed a cross-court hit to extend the Green-and-White’s lead early on, 4-2. With an attempt to stop the bleeding, Monares took advantage of a doughnut hole at the back row of DLSU and scored off a cross court spike. But DLSU still led, 7-3. La Salle entered the first technical timeout courtesy of Leila Cruz’s quick hit, 8-2. The Lady Spikers then showed dominance in the net throughout the rest of the first set, starting with Malaluan avoiding the defense of FEU and hitting a down-the-line spike, 10-4. 

Team captain Alba also utilized DLSU’s middle blockers, with Sharma converting numerous quick plays, giving the Lady Spikers a comfortable lead heading into the second technical timeout, 16-5. The Lady Tamaraws struggled to contain the swift offense of the Green-and-White at the net. Their defense continued to falter toward the end of the opening set, with Dela Cruz finding a doughnut hole at the back row of FEU and capitalizing on it, 17-5. La Salle continued to build on their momentum with Alba confusing FEU’s defense, contributing to the scoreboard with a spectacular cross-court spike, extending DLSU’s lead to 14, 19-5. However, the Taft-based squad committed their fair share of errors as a consequence of their misreception, including an attack error by Dela Cruz. Still, they kept a sizable lead against the Morayta-based squad, 23-7. Sharma served up an ace to bring her squad at set point, which was trailed by a Gagate quick attack that easily closed the first set, 25-7.  

Cruise control

After a dominant opening set, the Lady Spikers looked to take advantage of their rhythm in the second set. Opposite hitter Cruz scored for DLSU with a spike that was misreceived by FEU’s floor defense. This was immediately followed by FEU’s net violation, giving DLSU an early 2-0 lead. To answer, Monares took advantage of a rare opportunity with an attack down the middle to cut the deficit to one. Unfortunately for the Lady Tamaraws, errors proved to be a thorn in their side during the second set, committing 10 errors compared to the Lady Spikers’ two. Sharma continued to find success with quick attacks down the middle, scoring four points in the second set. FEU continued to struggle with receptions and communication as they went down, 8-2, heading into the first technical timeout. 

Alba once again showed a rare side of her game—scoring two quick points off a quick tip and a spike—to put DLSU up, 10-3. FEU looked to rally back into the game, scoring off the blockers, but La Salle’s solid defense, as well as the Lady Tamaraw’s mounting errors, continued to haunt FEU as they went down, 16-6, going into the second technical timeout. Coming out of the break, the Lady Tamaraws began to gain some traction off an error by Dela Cruz, along with points from Tagaod and Kiseo. However, FEU continued to struggle with receptions. Meanwhile, the Lady Spikers increased their lead off service aces and attacking errors from FEU. Matet Espina capped off a dominant second set by powering through FEU’s blockers, 25-12, and giving DLSU a commanding 2-0 set lead in the match.

Shaky performance 

In what could have been the final set, the Lady Spikers were troubled with shaky performances in the third. 

Despite acing the first two sets of the match, the Lady Spikers struggled with their reception at the start of the third set. Cruz’s early attack error also gave FEU momentum early on, with DLSU trailing 1-2. When Tagaod made a service error, the deficit was cut down to one, 4-5, with the Lady Tamaraws still in the lead. Sharma then carried out a crucial quick play to tie the match at 5-all. FEU team captain Ebon, after coming off the bench in the match, displayed perseverance as she managed to garner back-to-back points, breaking the net defense of the Taft-based squad, 5-7. Malaluan attempted to stop the bleeding as she scored a powerful cross-court hit, followed by a solo block from Sharma. At this point, La Salle trailed by one, 8-7. Veteran Dela Cruz then tried to rattle the Lady Tamaraws and their defense with an explosive spike, but DLSU was still behind in the third set, 11-14. Malaluan then contributed crucial back-to-back points to tie the game, 15-all. 

Toward the end of the third set, both teams had a back-and-forth exchange. But Tagaod continued to show flashes of brilliance against the defense of DLSU, converting back-to-back points off a down-the-line hit and a solid block against Dela Cruz, giving FEU an unexpected 22-19 lead. Gagate and Soreño’s double block closely brought down the gap to one, 21-22. But FEU eventually prevented the Lady Spikers from ending the game in three sets, securing a 25-22 set win over the Green-and-White via a Kiseo spike. 

Finishing strong

After faltering in the third set, the Lady Spikers started the fourth set with a four-touch violation right after FEU’s attack error, 1-1. However, DLSU proved themselves able to put their sloppy play behind them as they scored five straight points off successful attacks, an FEU error, and a service ace to take a 6-1 lead. The Lady Tamaraws then answered back, cutting DLSU’s lead to three, 7-4. However, Malaluan continued her stellar performance by scoring five points early in the set, giving the Lady Spikers an 8-4 advantage going into the fourth set’s first technical timeout. 

After errors from both teams, La Salle started to build up a lead off quick attacks from Sharma and Gagate, with the La Salle towers pouncing on overreceived balls from FEU. Espina also came up big in the would-be final set with five markers, finding gaps in the middle and overpowering FEU’s blockers—helping the Lady Spikers build a 16-8 lead heading into the second technical timeout of the fourth. Ebon looked to keep her side alive in the match, scoring three points off attacks, but she was unable to turn the tide of the set as DLSU never let go of the momentum. The Green-and-White scored the final four points of the set off opposition errors and two attacks from Espina, handily taking the fourth set, 25-11.

Malaluan shared that she found the game challenging to an extent, “At first okay kami then parang naging complacent kami sa loob ng court noong third set, which isn’t a good thing.”

(At first we were okay, then we became complacent inside the court during the third set, which wasn’t a good thing.)

This was then followed up by Coach Benson Bocboc, who echoed her sentiments “Talagang nakapag handa [kami] sa FEU; alam namin na lalaban sila. Medyo mabagal [kami] kasi nag-adjust sa galaw ng kalaban pero buti naman naka-recover.”

(We prepared for FEU and we knew they were going to fight back. We were a bit slow in adjusting to their movements but fortunately, we were able to recover.)

After being awarded as player of the game for the second time in her rookie season, Malaluan assessed her performance under the bright lights of the UAAP, “I think ‘yung kailangan kong i-improve, I need to be a good follower and leader as well. Hindi magwowork ‘yung team namin if hindi kami magtutulungan.”

(Our team won’t function if we won’t help each other out.)

The DLSU Lady Spikers aim to shoot down the undefeated NU Lady Bulldogs as they face off again at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday, May 26, at 6 pm, to start their second round of the double round robin tournament.

The Scores: 

DLSU – Malaluan 16, Gagate 14, Sharma 13, Cruz 8, Espina 7, Dela Cruz 6, Alba 4, Soreño 1, Tolentino 0, Coronel 0, Ordiales 0

FEU – Tagaod 11, Kiseo 9, Ebon 6, Asis 2, Monares 2, Ubaldo 1, Juangco 1, Mora 1, Gallo 0 

Set Scores: 25-7, 25-12, 22-25, 25-11

Tana Melgar

By Tana Melgar

Aren Reyes

By Aren Reyes

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