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SSL: Lady Spikers unable to topple unscathed NU Lady Bulldogs, settle for silver

The DLSU Lady Spikers stumbled against their rivals, the NU Lady Bulldogs, failing to claim the Shakey’s Super League championship title in straight sets, 25-23, 25-20, 25-20, earlier tonight, November 19, at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum.  

Alyssa Solomon was named as the MVP of the Match, spearheading the scoring parade for the  Lady Bulldogs with 14 points built on 10 attacks, one block, and three aces. UAAP Season 84 Rookie-MVP and 2nd Best Outside Spiker Bella Belen also finished in double digits for her squad with 10 points from nine attacks and a block.

In a losing effort, Angel Canino, who was also awarded as the 1st Best Outside Spiker, led the scoring for the Lady Spikers with 14 points built on 11 attacks, two blocks, and an ace to match Solomon’s output. Meanwhile, 1st Best Middle Blocker Thea Gagate recorded eight points, while Alleiah Malaluan and Leila Cruz tallied seven points apiece. 

Inconsistent start 

The Lady Spikers kicked off the championship match with excellent offensive plays, as Gagate’s service ace propelled her team to an early lead, forcing the Lady Bulldogs to a timeout, 6-2. However, the Green and White began to commit errors as Alba and Canino failed to connect their plays. A down-the-line spike by Ces Robles soon gave NU the lead, 7-6. After recovering from sloppy errors, Canino launched an explosive spike that NU could not handle—leading them into the first technical timeout of the first set, 8-7. 

Off the timeout, both teams had a fair exchange of points, until Solomon went off for three consecutive points that rattled the floor defense of DLSU. Followed by a cross-court hit by Belen, the Lady Bulldogs were up by two, 14-12. However, the rookie standout Canino immediately answered back, bringing her team to the second technical timeout of the game with a slim advantage, 16-15. The Solomon and Robles tandem was able to break the momentum of the Lady Spikers, prompting them to adjust as Malaluan tied the game at 21-all. In an attempt to close the gap, Cruz was blocked by the solid net defense of NU, eventually recovering to score off the blockers as they cut the lead down to one, 24-23. However, they were unable to contain the crucial spike of Belen that went through the blockers of La Salle and ended the first set at 25-23.

Valiant effort

The Lady Bulldogs were off to a strong offensive start in the second frame. Despite the Lady Spikers earning two straight points to open the set, NU answered immediately with a blistering 7-0 run led by Vangie Alinsug, who tortured the reception of DLSU with three service aces while Francine Osis chipped in a block and a spike. A back quick by Ynna Hatulan stopped the bleeding for the Lady Spikers but Myrtle Escanlar and Osis each responded with an attack, 9-3. 

Both teams went on to trade points until the 11-5 mark, where NU uncorked another 5-0 bomb after forcing the Green and White to commit three errors, with Maaya and Escanlar scoring one apiece, 16-5. The Lady Spikers began to show some signs of life after the second technical timeout of the set, responding with a 4-1 run from the combined efforts of Provido, Cruz, and Gagate, 17-9. However, Alinsug and Ellarina then converted two straight attacks to extend the lead back to 10, 19-9.

A Gagate quick attack sparked the beginning of a momentous 7-2 run by DLSU. Along with a kill block by Canino, a double quick conversion by Cruz trimmed the deficit down to five points, 21-16. Fresh from the bench, Belen unloaded an off-the-block hit, only to be countered by three straight points from the Green and White with another Cruz double quick, Canino ace, and a Malaluan down-the-line spike, 22-19. La Salle’s momentum was thwarted by a service error, but Cruz launched a cross court attack to take it back—only to commit yet another service error that took NU to set point, 24-20. The set was ended by a kill block from Sheena Toring on Malaluan, 25-20.

Too little, too late

With the intent of recovering from a sloppy start in the second set, the Taft-based squad started off the third frame on the backs of the Malaluan and Sharma tandem as they were able to gain a slim advantage, 3-2. The Lady Bulldogs maintained their spectacular offense and defense as they blocked Sharma’s quick attack, followed by an error from Malaluan, bringing NU to the first technical timeout of the third set with a lead of their own, 8-7. Despite her side’s repetitive errors, Canino managed to convert three consecutive points again, now tying the match at 14-all. This was echoed by a crucial quick play from Sharma, pacing her team to the second technical timeout, 16-15. 

The Lady Spikers continued to stumble with their attack as Malaluan got blocked at the net, forcing DLSU to call another timeout, 17-all. DLSU also failed to receive NU’s powerful serves as they were still down by four, 23-19. After an explosive cross court attack by Solomon, the Lady Spikers were still unable to bring back their defense, 24-19. Despite a valiant  effort, a  sloppy over-receive by the Green and White allowed Belen to convert an attack which bagged the championship for the Lady Bulldogs, 25-19.

With this loss, the DLSU Lady Spikers ended their inaugural Shakey’s Super League season as silver medalists. The Green and White will look to take their newfound experience from the competition to their next UAAP campaign where they hope to spark a run for the championship trophy.

The Scores

DLSU 0 – Canino 14, Gagate 8, Cruz 7, Malaluan 7, Alba 4, Sharma 4, Provido 2, Coronel 1, Larroza (L) 1, Hatulan 1, Espina 1

NU 3 – Solomon 14, Belen 10, Robles 9, Escanlar 6, Pangilinan 5, Alinsug 4, Lamina 3, Toring 3, Maaya 3, Ellarina 2, Osis 1

Set Scores: 23-25, 20-25, 20-25

By Andrea Ysobel Bacolor

By Tana Melgar

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