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SSL: Lady Spikers take five-set thriller over AdU, advance to finals

The DLSU Lady Spikers won their Shakey’s Super League semifinal matchup against the AdU Lady Falcons in five sets, 25-16, 18-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-8, earlier tonight, November 11, at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.

Thea Gagate bagged the Player of the Game honors, scoring 27 points on 18 attacks, five blocks, and four aces.

Hitting their stride

The Lady Spikers started off the rematch with strong defense above the net and on the floor, leading 4-1 after a cross-court hit by Angel Canino. From there, the Green and White began to slip, committing errors that saw AdU go into the first technical timeout with the lead, 6-8. La Salle had lost the momentum from their strong start, but forcefully took control of the set thanks to the explosive pair of Canino and Alleiah Malaluan, 13-10, prompting Adamson to call a timeout. From that point, DLSU began to run away with the set, going up 18-11 after Gagate’s stellar play on both sides of the ball. Adamson slowly chipped into their deficit but Canino stabilized the opening frame for the Archers, scoring on a monstrous cross-court hit, 22-15. From then on, the team from Taft cruised to take the first set, 25-16, after Gagate’s running hit was followed up by a service ace by Sharma.

Losing momentum

The second set began with an exchange of momentum as both teams reached a deadlock multiple times. Taking the lead, Jyne Soreño converted an off-the-block attack to put La Salle up, 5-4. DLSU struggled to make an offensive attack after a crucial service error from Hatulan, 9-all. Adamson managed to pull away with their pesky defense and smart plays. 

Gagate’s quick attack broke the 4-0 run of the Lady Falcons, 13-16. However, Adamson was still able to stack their lead by one point after a successful off-the-block challenge, 15-18. In an attempt to chip away at the deficit, cross court attacks from Canino and Malaluan brought DLSU closer, 17-21. La Salle struggled as Adamson began to run away with the lead. Tubu powered through DLSU’s blockers, putting them at set point. The Lady Falcons ultimately captured the second set with a power tip from Riza Cruz, 18-25.

Displaying grit

After dropping the second set, Cruz and Canino led La Salle offensively to open the third frame, 6-4. DLSU slowly began to see their lead grow after a string of AdU errors, 11-8, but began to misfire offensively. The Lady Falcons were on the heels of the Lady Spikers, 12-11, but Canino stepped up for her side just as she has all-tournament long, scoring six straight points, but Adamson managed to take the lead in the set, 21-18. After falling behind, Gagate stepped up, remaining steady for the Green and White. The UAAP Season 84 mythical team member finished off a quick attack to retake the lead, 23-22. Malaluan took La Salle to set point before Gagate finished what she started, towering over the Lady Falcons’ blockers to claim the third set, 25-23.

Falling short

Gagate remained effective in the fourth set, converting an attack and a power tip, 3-2. Cruz, on the same note, scored two consecutive times with powerful cross court attacks and Alba hit a down-the-line to tie the match at 13-all. The Lady Falcons maintained their lead until DLSU went on a 4-0 run courtesy of Malaluan’s cross court attack and Gagate’s surprise attack, forcing Adamson to call a timeout, 19-all. Malaluan broke through with an attack which put La Salle up, 21-19. Adolfo on the other hand, stepped up for the Lady Falcons, scoring with her cross court hits putting Adamson at set point, 22-24. Soreño answered back with an attack to boost her team but DLSU’s lack of defense gave the Lady Falcons their second set win, 22-25.

Ticket to the finals

AdU got off to a hot start in the final set, 0-3, but Gagate continued to deliver for DLSU, tying up the set, 4-4. Succeedingly, Canino sparked her side to a 4-1 run to flip the tables and give DLSU a three-point buffer, 8-5. The momentum had shifted heavily to the side of the Green and White, with Soreño scoring on a service ace before Sharma stifled Adamson’s attack above the net, 10-6. After struggling for most of the match, Malaluan found her rhythm on the court, uncorking three big attacks to bring the game to match point, 14-8, as DLSU was running away with the fifth frame. After an Adamson offensive error, the Taft-based squad advanced to the finals.

The DLSU Lady Spikers will face the undefeated NU Lady Bulldogs in the Shakey’s Super League finals at 6:30 pm on November 19, at the same venue.

By Ysa Bakabak

By Diego Manzano

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