UAAP: Lady Spikers stay afloat versus Lady Falcons in heated five-set match, spoil AdU’s second-seed bid

The DLSU Lady Spikers marked their 11th win of the UAAP Season 85 Women’s Volleyball tournament after defeating the AdU Lady Falcons in five sets, 25-17, 25-27, 23-25, 25-23, 15-9, earlier tonight, April 19, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. The Green and White spoiled the Lady Falcons’ bid for second seed in the Final Four race.

Super rookie Angel Canino led her team to victory with 28 points, five blocks, and six excellent digs—once again earning the Player of the Game title. Also garnering double digits, middle blocker Thea Gagate registered 22 points and three blocks, while veteran Jolina Dela Cruz tallied 21 points, three service aces, and 13 excellent receptions. 

In the losing effort, three players from the Lady Falcons finished in double digits. Kate Santiago contributed 21 points, while rookie Trisha Tubu and outside hitter Lucille Almonte chipped in 18 and 13 points, respectively. 

Effective start

The first set started strong with a running attack from Gagate. Lady Falcon Santiago was quick to answer back with an emphatic attack to bring the score to 4-1, but they lost momentum with unforced errors from the side of Adamson. The Lady Spikers dominated early in the first set with three players immediately scoring off of their attacks. After Shev Laput powered through the blockers of the Lady Falcons, Dela Cruz scored from an off-the-block hit to add to Canino’s kill and put La Salle up by three points before heading into the first technical timeout, 8-5.

The setters of both teams were smart in calling their shots, which led to an exchange of high-octane plays in the set. A long rally was ended by Tubu, who spiked the ball off the hands of Dela Cruz for the point. Consequently, Laput converted a sharp cross-court attack to put DLSU up, 12-9. Despite being able to execute their pesky plays, Adamson’s efforts were not enough to counter the team from Taft. After a power tip from Dela Cruz, Tubu hit the ball away, forcing their team to call a timeout, 22-16. To put her team at set point, it was top-scoring Canino who converted an attack on a rolling ball to capture the first set, 25-17.

Succumbing to pressure 

After a spectacular opening set, the Green and White made sure to continue their offensive prowess as Jyne Soreño subbed in and made consecutive points—giving her team an early advantage, 5-3. However, she was blocked by Adamson’s Lorence Toring, who was able to cut the gap down to three, 7-4. Afterward, a power tip from Canino propelled her team to the first technical timeout of the second frame with a three-point lead, 8-5

The Toring-Tubu tandem at the net made consecutive points for the Lady Falcons that rattled DLSU’s defense. However, Dela Cruz’s cross-court attack halted AdU’s 3-1 run, 10-8. Keeping her team’s momentum, Dela Cruz scored a service ace, which was followed by a cross-court attack by Soreño to bring the Taft-based team to the second technical timeout of the set, 16-12. 

Coming off the break, Lady Spikers committed many sloppy receptions and attack errors that were punished by a service ace from Toring, tying the match at 19-all. The later half of the second set became a nip-and-tuck battle, until a crucial successful challenge from La Salle put them at a two-point advantage, 22-20. Afterwards, Tubu rattled the defense of DLSU to bring Adamson to set point, 24-23. However, Gagate answered back and extended the set with a quick attack, tying the game at 24-all. Tubu’s attempt to seal the deal was denied by Canino who blocked her, 25-24. After an unsuccessful challenge from La Salle, Tubu closed the overdue set in favor of the Lady Falcons with a powerful cross-court attack, 27-25.

Falling behind 

Dela Cruz was first to break ground with a cross-court attack but committed a service error soon after. This gave Toring the chance to serve back-to-back aces after her running attack. The momentum Adamson gained from the previous set lingered long enough to compel DLSU call a timeout after trailing early in the set, 5-1. The combined efforts of the Lady Falcons carried on, converting a remarkable offense with Santiago scoring from a powerful spike. Adamson was first to crack double digits, but the Lady Spikers persevered to cut the lead short as Gagate ended a long rally with a power drop, 11-8. Adamson then called for a timeout in the third set, 13-12, after a single block from Canino cut the lead by one point.

Canino scored from an off-the-block upon exiting the second technical timeout. After a successful challenge by Adamson, another long rally took place until it was ended by Almonte—who broke through the towers of La Salle. The Lady Falcon once again executed a nifty service ace before DLSU called for a timeout, 19-16. Unforced errors from the Lady Falcons gave the team from Taft their first lead in the set, 23-22. The score was once again tied after a cross-court attack from Santiago was followed by Almonte’s off-the-block. This put Adamson at set point, 24-23. An unsuccessful challenge from DLSU closed the set 25-23 giving the Lady Falcons a set advantage, 2-1.

Heartstopping exchange 

The Green and White displayed a sluggish performance in the beginning of the fourth frame. Rookie standout Tubu made back-to-back points, putting Adamson in the lead, 4-2. However, a crucial cross-court attack from Canino finally put La Salle in control, 6-4. This was answered back by Almonte, who rattled La Salle’s defense by going cross-court on a broken play, 6-5. Afterward, a sloppy error from AdU gave the Lady Spikers a three-point advantage heading into the first technical timeout of the fourth set, 8-5. 

Coming from the timeout, the hitters from Taft activated their net offense and defense as Dela Cruz made back-to-back points with a cross-court attack and a single block that shut down Aprylle Tagsip, 12-9. Gagate then topped off a 5-0 run by converting an over-receive from Adamson, 15-9. Afterward, a crucial spike from Dela Cruz gave the Lady Spikers enough momentum to survive till the second technical timeout, 16-10. 

Toward the end of the fourth set, Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player candidate Canino scored four consecutive points, which gave her team a sizable lead, 21-17. In order to aid their defense and reception, DLSU Head Coach Ramil de Jesus subbed in Maicah Larroza, whose first plays of the game featured a down-the-line spike from Dela Cruz, 23-20. To keep her team alive, middle blocker Gagate returned an over receive by the Lady Falcons that brought the Lady Spikers to a decisive fifth set, 25-23. 

Finishing strong

Coming from a close fight in the fourth set, the Lady Spikers struggled to produce any offense early in the set. Recovering from an attack error, Laput managed to tally a point for La Salle with a power tip. A strong momentum shift surged when the Lady Spikers managed to pick out two service aces from Dela Cruz and multiple no-entry blocks from Gagate and Canino that sealed the net, 7-2. After the technical timeout, the team from Taft was boosted by Canino, who gained an unassailable lead through her shots powering through Adamson and converting a service ace, 14-6. While Adamson attempted to extend the lead, veteran outside hitter Dela Cruz took the fifth set and the match with a down-the-line attack, 15-9.

After the match, the team admitted that they became a bit lax in the second set and that the match turned into a test of their character. Nevertheless, Canino shared how the team looks forward to improving every game and how they should not add any more unforced errors committed inside the court. 

Echoing her teammates’ sentiments, middle blocker Gagate revealed that focusing on the present should be the priority of the team and that they should not dwell on the errors, “‘Di naman namin makukuha tong panalo kung ‘di namin pinaghirapan at ginawa ‘yung roles individually and as a team.” She furthered that the errors should be lessened and that the team should focus on the dominant aspects that they have.

(We would not have been able to win this if we did not work hard and did our roles individually and as a team.)

DLSU Assistant Coach Noel Orcullo mentioned that the team must always show their eagerness to win, “Pagdating ng ganitong labanan, lalabas yung character niyo na kailangan di tayo magpatalo.” Even with a twice-to-beat advantage secured, the Lady Spikers will battle out their remaining games to stay at the top of the standings this season. 

(When it comes to these types of games, there will be a display of character to show that we cannot lose.) 

Coming from this hard-fought match, the DLSU Lady Spikers will meet their long-time arch rivals, the ADMU Blue Eagles at 3 pm on Sunday, April 23, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:

DLSU 3 – Canino 28, Gagate 22, Dela Cruz 21, Sharma 7, Alba 6, Laput 6, Soreño 4, Provido 2, Larroza 0, Coronel 0, Jazareno 0, De Leon 0 

AdU 2 – Santiago 21, Tubu 18, Almonte 13, Toring 6, Cruz 6, Tagsip 6, Romero 2, Verdeflor 1, Marce 1, Nuique 0 

Set Scores: 25-17, 25-27, 23-25, 25-23, 15-9 

Ysa Bakabak

By Ysa Bakabak

Tana Melgar

By Tana Melgar

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