UAAP: Lady Spikers outlast Lady Tamaraws in gritty three-set affair to stay unscathed at 9-0

After two consecutive sweeps in their previous games, the Lady Spikers tallied another 3-0 victory against the FEU Lady Tamaraws 30-28, 25-12, 28-26, earlier today, March 29, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Angel Canino registered a monstrous triple-double outing with 16 points, 15 excellent receives, and 14 excellent digs. Fellow open spiker Jolina Dela Cruz recorded a double-double of her own with 13 points on 10 attacks, two aces, one block, and 14 excellent digs to earn herself the Player of the Game honors.

In the loss, two players from the Lady Tamaraws finished in double digits as Cherie Tagaod posted 13 points, while rookie spiker Alyzza Devosora tallied 10 points that unfortunately went to naught.

Tight race to 30

The Lady Spikers struggled to keep up with the Lady Tamaraws’ rhythm early in the game, as the Morayta-based squad went off to a hot start as Tagaod led the way for the Tamaraws by contributing two attacks from the left, 0-4. La Salle’s Fifi Sharma had enough and went on in the middle with a block from FEU’s reception error and a strong hit from Zone 3, 4-6. The ladies in gold kept the lead until the 15-19 mark as Tagaod, Devosora, and Mitzi Panangin went on a joint effort to extend their lead to four.

It seemed like a hopeless case for the Taft-based squad when the Lady Tamaraws reached set point, 21-24. However, the Lady Spikers exhibited their trademark tenacity as DLSU team captain Mars Alba led them to set point after landing two service aces, 25-24. Tagaod showed no signs of giving up as she put FEU back to set point with an off-the-block hit and a monster block against Dela Cruz, 25-26. The ladies in green could not wait any longer as Canino scored back-to-back with an unopposed open hit and another attack targeting the wide open Zone 6 to end the set in their favor, 30-28.

Merciless pounding

After a neck-and-neck opening set that extended to five deuces, the Lady Spikers made sure to put their offensive prowess on full display in the second frame. While FEU was able to keep up with La Salle until the first technical timeout, their momentum did not last as the Lady Spikers started pulling away after the 9-8 mark when Canino uncorked two straight pipe attacks to retake the lead at 10-9. This also sparked the beginning of a 7-0 scoring blitz for La Salle, as Sharma produced two markers from the service line, while Gagate and Alba contributed one apiece from a drop ball and a block, respectively, 15-9. Tagaod was able to stop the bleeding for the Lady Tamaraws, but Gagate took the point back with a running attack to send the Lady Spikers to the second technical timeout, 16-10.

Exiting the break, La Salle continued to punish the FEU defense as Dela Cruz delivered back-to-back points on top of Gagate’s block, together with a giveaway point from an FEU attack error, stretching the lead to double digits at 20-10. Tagaod tried to rally the Lady Tamaraws back in the game with a down-the-line shot, but the Lady Spikers went on a 5-1 run, courtesy of two attacks from Jyne Soreño, an ace from Dela Cruz, and two net violations from FEU, to close out the second set comfortably, 25-12.

Finishing braver

With two sets to the Lady Spikers, the well-oiled team went on an early third-set run with Gagate leading the pack with a drop and a quick from the middle, 4-2. The Green and White were far from finished with their surprise tactics as setter Alba scored through a spike in the middle, much to the surprise of the Lady Tamaraws. The now-heated Alba went to prove her attacking skills as Gagate set her up once again on the opposite side, 8-5. Back-to-back attacks from Jovelyn Fernandez inched FEU closer to DLSU, 14-13. With her teammates’ trust on her already established, Dela Cruz set up Alba once again to end the long rally, 23-22, La Salle still with the lead. 

Challenging each other in yet again another extended set, Dela Cruz caught the end line to take match point, 27-26. In an attempt to further stretch the game, Fernandez unleashed a powerful hit, but her ball was unable to reach the La Salle court, 28-26.

After a lopsided first-round encounter against FEU, DLSU Coach Noel Orcullo’s Lady Spikers saw the opening frame of their second-round rematch go down to the wire. Orcullo commented, “We started flat. Parang di sila makagalaw. Ni-remind lang namin sila na nawawala tayo sa sistema. Iba yung ginagawa [nila] kesa sa practice namin.” 

(It was like they couldn’t move. We reminded them that we were straying away from the system. What they’re doing is different from our training.)

Canino echoed similar sentiments, sharing, “Di kami pwede [maging] flat…Dapat doon lang po kami lagi sa sistema namin.”

(We can’t be flat. We should stick to our system.)

Orcullo disclosed that open spiker Leila Cruz, who had a bad fall in DLSU’s Round Two win over the NU Lady Bulldogs, suffered from an ACL tear and would be out for the rest of the season. The La Salle mentor lauded Cruz’s positive mindset but added, “Nawalan kami ng isang vital part sa team, we have to move on.”

(We lost a vital part of the team, we have to move on.)

Despite his side’s win today, Orcullo affirmed that the team needs improvement, “’Di tayo pwedeng ganito lalaruin natin pagdating sa UST, dahil ang UST [ay] sobrang agresibo, matibay ang depensa [nila], [at] malakas [sila] magserve, so kailangan triple effort ang gawin natin sa training…Kailangan umpisa pa lang, aggressive na kami.”

(We can’t play the way we did when we face UST because they’re aggressive, their defense is tough, and they serve well, so we need triple effort in training. We need to be aggressive from the start.)

After this win, La Salle maintains their undefeated status and now holds a 9-0 record. The DLSU Lady Spikers’ flawless record will be put to the test when they face the UST Golden Tigresses again at 2 pm on Sunday, April 2, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

DLSU – Canino 16, Dela Cruz 13, Gagate 11, Sharma 9, Soreño 8, Alba 6, Coronel 0, Laput 0

FEU – Tagaod 13, Devosora 10, Fernandez 9, Asis 4, Panangin 4, Ubaldo 3, Petallo 3, Asis 2, Gallo 0, Monares 0

Set Scores: 30-28, 25-12, 28-26

Andrea Ysobel Bacolor

By Andrea Ysobel Bacolor

Luis Agus

By Luis Agus

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