UAAP: Lady Spikers open up S85 with thrilling five-set victory over Golden Tigresses

The DLSU Lady Spikers had a gallant start to the UAAP Season 85 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, winning a nailbiter against the UST Golden Tigresses in five sets, 25-20, 16-25, 25-8, 15-25, 16-14, earlier today, February 26, at the SM Mall of Asia. 

Rookie standout Angel Canino led the scoring for the Lady Spikers with 18 points, garnering the player of the game plum. Jolina Dela Cruz and Leila Cruz also tallied 18 and 14 points, respectively. Backing up the team’s defense, Justine Jazareno posted 20 excellent digs while team captain Mars Alba contributed 14 excellent sets and four service aces. 

For the UST Golden Tigresses, it was the team captain Eya Laure who carried her team with 19 points and eight excellent digs. She was supported by returning star, Milena Alessandrini, with 10 points and Imee Hernandez recorded seven points and two blocks. 

Emphatic comeback

The Lady Spikers got off to a rocky start as the Golden Tigresses put their foot on the gas pedal scoring the first five points of the contest. A violation by Canino put UST ahead by seven markers heading into the first technical timeout, 8-1. The lead grew to as much as nine for the Golden Tigresses, but the Lady Spikers mounted an impeccable comeback.

The tandem of Canino and Dela Cruz spearheaded the comeback through their magnificent attacks. Despite the numerous unforced errors that gave the team from España an edge, the spiking and blocking of La Salle spelled the difference in the opening set. 

Alessandrini’s powerful attack put UST on top, 19-15, but that was the last time they held the lead. Six successive points by DLSU, capped off by a Sharma spike through the middle, put the Lady Spikers in firm control, 21-19. Cruz’s service error cut it to a one-point lead, but the Green and White scored the next four points to wrest control of the set, 25-20.

Lackluster plays 

In an attempt to maintain their performance in the previous set, the Green and White had a rough exchange of plays as they suffered from back to back errors—putting UST in the lead, 6-3. Sharma managed to bring back her team’s rhythm after she blocked an attack from Regina Jurado, cutting the gap to one, 6-5. However, a crucial net error from Alba brought UST to the first technical timeout of the second set, 8-6. 

Coming out of the break, the Lady Spikers still failed to convert their offensive plays, as they committed three back-to-back errors, 13-9. Afterward, the Gagate and Dela Cruz tandem managed to stop the bleeding for their team as they both scored critical points, 14-11. Attempting to cut down the lead, a service ace from Torres propelled the Golden Tigresses to the second technical timeout with a five-point buffer, 16-11. 

After building a sizable lead for the remainder of the set, UST’s rookie standout Renee Peñafiel converted consecutive points for her team, 18-12. However, DLSU’s star rookie Canino answered back with her own crosscourt attack, 20-14. With no plans of backing down, Golden Tigresses captain Laure brought her team to set point before swiftly ending the second set with a powerful attack, 25-16.

Dominant showing

After a subpar second set by the Lady Spikers, they came out with a vengeance. The team from Taft prevented the Golden Tigresses from scoring a single point before the first technical timeout, capped off by an Alba ace. UST cut the lead to as low as seven after a Jurado attack, but La Salle imposed their will throughout the set.

The Golden Tigresses only scored a measly two points after the second technical timeout, which gave the Lady Spikers a comfortable cushion to wrap up the set. Nine straight markers by the team from Taft gave them a critical 2-1 set advantage. Two points by Cruz and another Alba ace wrapped up set 3 for the Lady Spikers, 25-8.

Failing to close it out 

The Taft-based team opened the fourth set with back-to-back points from Gagate, 2-1. However, Laure gave her team a large advantage as she led the offensive plays of the Golden Tigresses, bringing her team to the first technical timeout, 8-5. Coming from the timeout, La Salle faltered in their reception as they were unable to contain UST’s offense. This continued until Laure yet again gave her team a six-point edge, 16-10. 

In an attempt to regroup his team, Lady Spikers’ head coach Noel Orcullo utilized players from his bench—Julia Coronel and Soreño—to rattle UST’s momentum. But the strong duo of Alissandrini and Hernandez proved to be too much for the Green and White as they increased their lead to double digits, 24-14. Making her return to the España-based side’s lineup worth it, outside hitter Alissandrini smashed the Taft tower’s blocks to end the set, 25-15. 

Exceptional composure

In the first five-set match of UAAP Season 85, the Lady Spikers exemplified incredible grit and perseverance. Four of the first five points of the final set were scored by DLSU, which forced Golden Tigresses head coach Kungfu Reyes to an early timeout. UST hit back and grabbed the lead at the precarious juncture, 7-6.

It was a nip-and-tuck affair from here on out as the biggest lead of both schools was only at only two points until the end of the match. Torres’ spike through the blockers gave UST a 13-12 edge and forced DLSU head coach Noel Orcullo to utilize his final timeout. With the score at 15-14 and La Salle on its second match point, Laure’s attack went long and clinched the first victory for the Lady Spikers in Season 85.
In her first official UAAP game, the superstar rookie Canino elaborated on her stellar game and how she finally made her long-time dream come true. “Basta, maka-contribute ako and naka-contribute din yung ibang teammates. Sobrang happy ko po kasi dream ko ito: ang makalaro sa MOA and makalaro sa UAAP and now nandito na ako. Hindi ko in-expect na ito kinalabasan ng game,” Canino explains.

(My priority for this game was to contribute and for my teammates to, as well. I am very happy because it is my dream to play here at MOA, play at the UAAP stage, and now I am here. I did not expect the outcome of this game to be this way.)

The Lady Spikers resume their campaign on March 1 against the UP Fighting Maroons at 4 pm as they return to the Mall of Asia Arena in search of their second win of the season. 

The Scores:

DLSU 97 – Canino 18, Dela Cruz 14, Cruz 12, Gagate 6, Sharma 6, Alba 5, Provido 2, Soreño 1, Larroza 1

UST 92 – Laure 19, Alessandrini 10, Jurado 8, Hernandez 7, Penafiel 6, Torres 4, Mangulabnan 2, Abbu 1

Set Scores: 25-20, 16-25, 25-8, 15-25, 16-14

Tana Melgar

By Tana Melgar

Diego Vergel de Dios

By Diego Vergel de Dios

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