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UAAP: Lady Spikers bow down to undefeated Lady Bulldogs, open second round with tough loss

The DLSU Lady Spikers opened the second round with a three-set defeat at the hands of the NU Lady Bulldogs, 21-25, 20-25, 17-25, earlier today, May 26, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. 

Thea Gagate was the top scorer for the team from Taft with 10 points, seven of which came from spikes and three from blocks. Alleiah Malaluan also contributed seven points, while Matet Espina scored six points off the bench.

Princess Robles scored high for NU with 17 points, with 15 coming off from spikes and two from service aces. Michaela Belen also contributed 14 points, 10 of which came from spikes and three from service aces. Meanwhile, Alyssa Solomon chipped in 11. 

Lagging behind

Both teams showcased their offensive and defensive prowess early on as DLSU and NU exchanged points to tie the game at 4-all. However, a drop ball by Camilla Lamina ended a long rally and sparked the beginning of a momentous 4-0 run by the Lady Bulldogs to send them into the first technical timeout with DLSU trailing, 4-8. A service error by Lamina consequently gave the Lady Spikers an opportunity to pull closer, but NU executed a 5-1 run, courtesy of Robles who scored three consecutive points, while star rookies Belen and Solomon contributed one point apiece, 6-13.

The Lady Spikers unloaded a 3-0 run to level with NU’s firepower, led by Espina—who came off the bench—to deliver two points. Afterward, NU committed another attacking error, with the Taft-based squad still behind, 9-13. Belen answered back with three straight points only to be countered with two service errors from NU’s end, 11-16. As the Lady Bulldogs started pulling away in the first set, both teams continued to trade points one after the other until DLSU’s two straight costly errors stretched the NU lead back to six, 15-21.

Espina and Gagate tried to rally the Green-and-White back into the game, but NU had a dominating response through the combined power of Solomon, Belen, and Robles. DLSU star rookie Malaluan was able to save a set point via an off-the-block hit, but Erin Pangilinan answered back for NU with an attack, sealing the first set in favor of the Lady Bulldogs, 21-25. 

Deflating finish

Entering the second set, the Lady Spikers were motivated to fight off a second loss against the Lady Bulldogs. DLSU started the second set with a 3-1 lead as they capitalized on back-to-back errors from NU. The floor defense of the Green-and-White thwarted NU’s powerful hits and resulted in attacks coming from Soreño, Gagate, and Dela Cruz to extend their lead to three, 7-4. Gagate denied Belen at the net to give DLSU an 8-4 lead, heading into the first technical timeout of the second set.

But Belen and Robles scored back-to-back points for the Lady Bulldogs to trim DLSU’s lead to two, 8-6, forcing DLSU head coach Ramil De Jesus to call an early timeout. DLSU continued to capitalize on NU’s consecutive errors to build what would be their biggest lead of the game, 11-6. Belen then answered again with a powerful cross-court hit off a timeout as La Salle still led, 11-7. NU showcased their unparalleled play on the court and went on a 6-3 run to catch up with the Lady Spikers, bringing down the lead to one point, 15-14. But DLSU headed into the second technical timeout of the second set still up, 16-15, after Alba’s dump ball. 

As the second set turned into a close affair, Dela Cruz and Malaluan scored back-to-back points that extended DLSU’s lead to three, 18-15. However, it was La Salle who committed unnecessary errors that NU took advantage of, capped by Belen scoring two straight points through an off-the-block attack and a service ace, bringing the lead down to one, 18-17.  Gagate and Malaluan scored the last two points of the Lady Spikers during the second set off a cross-court hit and a down-the-line attack, respectively, giving them some breathing room, 20-18. But it was DLSU’s error-plagued play and NU’s effective offensive sets that erased DLSU’s lead, gift wrapping a sudden 24-20 scoreline in favor of the Lady Bulldogs. NU then completed their comeback with Robles’ offspeed attack and ended the second set, 25-20. 

Uncharacteristic performance

The third frame kicked off with both teams consecutively trading points yet again as the Lady Bulldogs held on to a narrow lead, 3-4. NU showcased its dominance in full display, uncorking a 5-1 scoring parade off of two service aces, one block, one attack, and a service error from DLSU, 4-9. The Lady Spikers answered back with a 4-1 run—all of which came from spikes—to trim the deficit down to two, 8-10.

Just as DLSU was building their momentum with hopes of making a comeback in the match, NU came back to their senses and unloaded an explosive 7-0 bomb off a total team effort of two service aces from Toring, two cross-court hits from Solomon and Belen, and a kill block by Lacsina. This brought the lead back up to nine at a crucial part of the game, 8-17.

With Fifi Sharma and Leila Cruz leading their squad, DLSU tried to hang on and managed to cut the lead back down to six, 12-18. However, the Lady Bulldogs continued to show no mercy as they went on a 5-0 run, 12-23. Cruz then scored on an off-the-block spike to stop the bleeding for DLSU but an exchange of errors by both teams was enough to bring NU at set point, 14-24. Refusing to give up, Malaluan and Espina converted two straight attacks, while Gagate scored off a kill block, 17-24. But Lamina won over a joust to close out the set and the match, 17-25.

The DLSU Lady Spikers look to bounce back as they face off against the FEU Lady Tamaraws at the SM Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, May 28, at 6:30 pm.

The Scores: 

DLSU – Gagate 10, Malaluan 7, Espina 6, Soreño 5, Sharma 4, Dela Cruz 3, Alba 1, Cruz 1, Coronel 0, Santos 0

NU – Robles 17, Belen 14, Solomon 11, Lacsina 4, Toring 3, Lamina 2, Pangilinan 1, Cagande 0

Set Scores – 21-25, 20-25, 17-25

By Andrea Ysobel Bacolor

By Raphael Serrano

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