UAAP: Lady Spikers shoot down collegiate rivals, stays atop of the league

The DLSU Lady Spikers secured their place on the top of the UAAP Season 85 Women’s Volleyball tournament standings after thwarting their long-time rivals ADMU Blue Eagles in straight sets, 25-22, 25-19, 25-18, earlier today, April 23, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Rookie opposite hitter Shev Laput’s career-high performance in today’s game with 16 points and one service ace earned her the Player of the Game award. Fellow rookie Angel Canino tallied 13 points, three blocks, and five excellent digs. Veteran middle blocker Thea Gagate also contributed double-digits with 12 points and five blocks. 

In a loss for the side from Katipunan, Vanie Gandler led the Blue Eagles in the scoring with 12 points and three service aces. Also scoring in double digits were team captain Faith Nisperos and AC Miner, who chipped in 12 points and 10 points, respectively. 

Heated matchup

The rivalry started off with an empathic spike from Gandler, who got it through the double block of La Salle for a point, 1-0. Gagate did not falter as she denied the hitter on her second attempt with a solid block, 1-1. Laput’s wide hit and an ace provided by Joan Narit permitted Ateneo to get the lead early in the game, 3-1. With La Salle falling behind early, super rookie Canino discharged back-to-back points to tie things up at 4-all. Fighting to upset their rivals from Taft, the Blue Eagles managed to involve both of their middle hitters to extend the lead to three and send both teams to the first technical timeout, 8-5.  

Fifi Sharma and Jolina Dela Cruz unleashed spikes from the green side to kick off a 3-0 run coming out of the break, 9-8. Facing Ateneo’s great floor defense, Dela Cruz drilled a sharp cross-court hit that trembled their pattern and erased the early lead of their rivals. The neck-and-neck battle cruised into the second half of the first set with varied attacks from both ends. Spikes stemming from Laput and Dela Cruz put La Salle up by a point, 15-14. Refusing to back down, Gandler answered back with consecutive smart plays that ushered the set to the second technical timeout, 16-15. 

Alba swiftly converted a point after the timeout, but unforced errors caused DLSU Head Coach Ramil De Jesus to call for a timeout as Ateneo was up by two, 18-16. It proved to be an effective move as DLSU scored three straight points to snatch the lead late in the set, 19-18. The Blue Eagles couldn’t recover their advantage as a double substitution shook their defensive pattern, courtesy of Julia Coronel’s heavy jump float serves. Jyne Soreño’s off-the-block attack took the first set for the Lady Spikers, 25-22.

Dominating plays 

La Salle steadily maintained their momentum from the previous set by showcasing their offensive plays, as Laput powered through the blockers of Ateneo to give her team an early lead, 6-3. However, the Lady Spikers faltered in their defense reception as they committed consecutive errors, topped off by an attack from AC Miner that put ADMU in the lead heading into the first technical timeout of the second set, 8-7. 

Coming off the break, the Blue Eagles had their own share of errors, which gave the Green and White enough momentum to allow an off-the-block attack from Dela Cruz, 13-9. The rookie tandem of Laput and Canino gave the Taft-based team a five-point lead, which was capped off by a single block on Geezel Tsunashima, 15-10. Afterward, Laput’s cross-court hit was too much for the Blue and White to handle, as the attack propelled La Salle into the second technical timeout, 16-11. 

Toward the end of the second set, the Lady Spikers continued to punish the poor offense and defense of the team from Katipunan as Dela Cruz blocked an attack from Nisperos to give them a three-point lead, 22-19. This was echoed by middle blocker Gagate, who denied Nisperos, putting them at set point 24-19. Opposite hitter Laput ended the set with a crucial drop ball, 25-19. 

Losing no sweat

Trying to regain their groove, Ateneo scored two consecutive points off Narit’s quick attack and an ace by setter Taks Fujimoto, 2-1. Both squads’ nip-and-tuck efforts intensified the first stretch of the third set, yet six-foot-two hitter Laput swung from the pipe and finished an off-the-system play, 8-7. With the Lady Spikers’ collective effort, La Salle extended the separation to three as ADMU trailed DLSU heading into the second technical timeout, 16-13. 

Eager to drag their rivals with a set win, attacks from the middle and opposite side showered from Ateneo to kick off a two-point mini run, 17-15. Canino’s hammer to the pavement halted the momentum of the Blue Eagles, 18-15. A double contact violation was called on La Salle; however, the team remained up by four, 21-17. Taft tower Gagate’s offensive and defensive jests allowed La Salle to reach match point, 24-17. The hot-handed opposite hitter secured the win, brushing it off the hands of the Ateneo blockers, 25-18. 

After the game, DLSU Assistant Coach Noel Orcullo commented on how the team’s efforts—not the opponents’—make up  every point needed to win the match, “Tayo gagawa ng puntos natin… Maglalaro yan ng laro nila, ‘di tayo pwedeng mag-relax.” He further shared how Laput’s performance made him proud, “kahit anong sabihin mo gagawin niya walang reklamo.”

(We need to earn points…They are going to play their own game, we cannot relax. No matter what you tell her, she will do it without complaining.) 

Coming from this match-high performance, Laput shared that she was surprised when she got a coveted high-five from none other than coach De Jesus, “It was funny just because it was unexpected not only [for] the other team but for myself.”

Echoing her teammate’s remarks, Canino shared how there was no pressure felt from the side of Ateneo as they were able to perform well in this one-of-a-kind rivalry match.

With one more game remaining in the second round before the tournament’s Final Four matchups, the DLSU Lady Spikers look to tally their 13th win of the season as they face the UE Lady Warriors at 3 pm on Saturday, April 29, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre. 

The Scores:

DLSU 3 – Laput 16, Canino 13, Gagate 12, Dela Cruz 8, Sharma 4, Alba 3, Soreño 3, Coronel 0, Provido 0, Jazareno 0, De Leon 0 

ADMU 0 – Gandler 13, Faith Nisperos 12, Miner 10, Narit 7, Buena 2, Fujimoto 1, Tsunashima 1, Cruz 0, Lomosco 0, Faye Nisperos 0, Doromal 0

Set Scores: 25-22, 25-19, 25-18

Zedi Perez

By Zedi Perez

Tana Melgar

By Tana Melgar

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