UAAP: Green Spikers snap 10-year drought, punch ticket to Final Four

Following up their victory in the Round One tilt, the DLSU Green Spikers ended the elimination round on a high note, as they toppled the UE Red Warriors in four sets, 25-16, 23-25, 25-13, 25-22, earlier tonight, April 29, 2023, at the Filoil EcoOil Centre.

Playmaking for the team from Taft was setter Paul Serrano, who bagged the Player of the Game honors as he completed 23 excellent sets and scored five points. In the scoring category, Noel Kampton contributed a team-high 20 points on 18 attacks, while team captain Vince Maglinao and star spiker JM Ronquillo recorded 14 markers each. Even with the stellar scoring of the Green Spikers, it was their blocking that stood out the most, as they held an enormous 17-4 advantage in that department. 

In the last game for the Red Warriors for UAAP Season 85, their production was anchored by Joshua Pozas and Kenneth Culabat, who tallied 17 points apiece. Helping the cause for UE was JM Andaya, who chipped in 11 points.

Towering above

Looking to secure their seat in the  Final Four, the Green Spikers took off early, as smart hits from Ronquillo and Maglinao brought them to an early 3-2 lead. The Red Warriors kept up as two sharp attacks from Pozas forced an early deadlock, 4-all. Looking to build a cushion, Kampton emphatically used a sharp attack and a block to edge further, 6-4. Focusing on middle attacks, UE used Giles Torres’ attack to keep it close, 6-5. Towering from the opposite block, Ronquillo led the Taft-based squad to a 5-0 run to build an early 11-5 lead.

Attempting to recover from their opponents’ run, the Recto-based squad activated their middle blockers  Andaya and Torres to keep the affair close, 13-8. However, a variation of smart attacks from Maglinao and Kampton pushed the Green and White ahead, 15-9. Living up to his “Taft Tower” identity, Nat del Pilar rejected the UE offense out of the second technical timeout, 17-11. A slow setup for an Andaya strike showed signs of life for UE, but an attack by Del Pilar and a block from Maglinao stopped them in their tracks, giving the Taft-based squad a 20-13 lead. Closing the set out, Maglinao, Kampton, and Von Marata strung together a run to bring DLSU to set point, 24-15. The Warriors spelled their first set fate as an error by Pozas handed DLSU the first set, 25-16. 

Crumbling in the crunch

Following the dominating set one victory, the Green Spikers were looking to continue their success at the net. At the beginning of the second set, both schools could not wrest control as the biggest lead of either team was only at two points. With the score tied at 7-all, Del Pilar’s spike gave La Salle the critical 8-7 advantage heading into the first technical timeout.

After the break, the see-saw affair continued as the second set had a whopping number of 20 deadlocks. A down-the-middle spike by the middle blocker Andaya catapulted the Red Warriors to a precarious one-point lead, 16-15. Red Warriors’ substitute spiker Angelo Reyes caught the La Salle defense napping as his magnificent spike put the Red Warriors on top, 18-16, forcing Green Spikers’ head coach Arnold Laniog to call timeout.

The hotly-contested set continued until the end, as Kampton’s powerful smash put the Green Spikers in the driver’s seat, 23-22. That was the 17th attack point of La Salle in the second set, but the Red Warriors scored the set’s final three points to knot the match at one set apiece, 25-23. 

Great Wall of Taft

Coming off the second set loss heartbreak, longtime teammates Ronquillo and Maglinao struck quickly to give the Green and White a 2-0 advantage. UE managed to push back off a La Salle error and an attack from Culabat, 3-2. Going back to their opening set gameplan, team captain Maglinao led by example as he showed off La Salle’s above-the-net dominance with an emphatic block, 4-2. The Red Warriors kept afloat as they used a pair of smart hits to tie it up, 4-all. Taking control of the offense, Kampton dominated the opposition with a series of strong hits and off speed setups to place his squad ahead going into the first technical timeout, 8-4.

Fresh off the break, Anima brought the power with a pair of running attacks, 10-5. Continuing the run, setter Serrano showed off his dominance above the net as he denied entry to Culabat’s two attacks, 12-5. UE’s Pozas tried to stop the bleeding with a strong hit, but the Taft-based squad leaned on Serrano’s smart play and Ronquillo’s attacks to push their lead, 17-6.

The twin tower duo of Andaya and Torres slowly tried to chip away at the lead but, La Salle’s flawless offensive execution and defensive dominance kept them at bay. A string of UE errors and attacks from Anima, Kampton, Marata, and Maglinao sealed the set in Taft’s favor, 25-16.

Clinching the Final Four spot

With a 2-1 edge heading to the fourth set, the Green Spikers had trouble maintaining the momentum at the early juncture of the frame. Culabat was a marked man in the earlier sets, but he exemplified his skills in the fourth set, which were highlighted by a splendid spike that put the Red Warriors on top, 10-6.

La Salle called for an early timeout—a brilliant decision for the Green and White, as they rattled off seven straight points to push themselves ahead of the Red Warriors, 13-11. Culabat and Pozas were the prominent individuals keeping UE afloat in the fourth set, but the exhaustion was evident in the latter part of the set. Two attack errors by Culabat and Pozas, followed by a Giles Torres miscue, gave DLSU a massive 21-18 edge.

The Red Warriors burned their final timeout, but it was too late for the side from Recto. Kampton’s two successive smashes, followed by a Ronquillo hit, clinched the match for La Salle, 25-22. 

As the Green Spikers move onto the Final Four, they will wait for who will emerge victorious in the battle between the FEU Tamaraws and UP Fighting Maroons tomorrow. A win by the Tamaraws would clinch a matchup with the Green Spikers in the Final Four step ladder, while a loss will tie FEU’s record with the Ateneo Blue Eagles for the number four spot. 

The Scores:

DLSU 3 – Kampton 20, Ronquillo 14, Maglinao 14, Del Pilar 9, Anima 8, Serrano 5, Marata 4, 

UE 1 – Culabat 17, Pozas 17, Andaya 11, Mangahis 7, Torres 6, Imperial 1, A. Reyes 1
Set Scores: 25-16, 23-25, 25-13, 25-22

Diego Vergel de Dios

By Diego Vergel de Dios

Joaquin Constantino

By Joaquin Constantino

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