In a tightly-contested affair, the Green Spikers fell victim to the surging FEU Tamaraws in four sets, 25-21, 19-25, 25-22, 25-22, ending their Season 85 run at the third runner-up spot earlier today, May 3, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In their final game of the season, the dynamic duo of Noel Kampton and JM Ronquillo led the La Salle effort with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Middle blocker Billie Anima chipped in 14 points with seven blocks, while Nat Del Pilar provided 10 markers.
Leading the FEU charge was Mark Calado, who scored a game-high 22 points including 20 spikes, while Zhydryx Saavedra and Jelord Talisayan delivered 12 points each in the Tamaraws’ winning efforts.
Failing to keep it clean
Going the distance after their second-round matchup, both squads picked up right where they left off as they went blow-for-blow in the opening minutes. Led by Kampton’s strong off-system attacking, the hitters from Taft kept up with the Morayta-based side’s strong serving to force an early 2-all deadlock. Shifting their gameplan, FEU setter Martinez leaned on the attacking duo Saavedra and Sabanal to counter Kampton’s red-hot start and force another early tie, 6-all. Not to be outdone, Serrano played a two-man game in the middle as he activated Del Pilar’s quick attacking to gain a 7-6 edge. Kampton stuck to his early momentum as he used a combination play attack to give DLSU the lead going into the first technical timeout, 8-7.
Both teams exchanged key errors out of the timeout until Kampton dominated the FEU triple block to force another deadlock, 12-all. Wanting to take control of the game, the Tamaraws launched a 6-2 run-off with attacks from Calado, Saavedra, and Sabanal, to take an 18-14 lead. Quiet in the early going of the first set, Ronquillo stopped the bleeding with a down-the-line attack, but FEU stuck to the game plan and used their excellent floor defense to maintain the lead.
Anima’s attack through Martin Bugaoan’s block put the Green and White within striking distance, 18-20. Errors continued to pile up on the La Salle side, culminating in an easy pushback by Sabanal that put FEU at set point, 24-20. An unfortunate service error from Kampton ultimately spelled La Salle’s first set fate, giving the Tamaraws the opener, 25-21.
The Green Spikers opened the second set strong, going on a 5-2 run that was capitalized by a block from Anima. Undeterred, the Tamaraws responded with a 5-1 run of their own, with Jelord Talisayan and Calado scoring on spikes against the struggling DLSU defense. After another drop ball by Saavedra gave FEU the lead 8-7, DLSU was forced to call their first timeout of the set.
Coming off the timeout, both teams traded points one after the other, neither seeming to gain the upper hand. A service ace from Talisayan was quickly answered by a spike from Anima, while Kampton and Saavedra both scored on spikes for their teams to tie the set at 11-apiece. However, De Jesus would power a 4-0 run for DLSU with a block and a spike in consecutive possessions, giving his team a 15-11 lead. Seeking to snatch the momentum from the surging Green Spikers, Talisayan fired a bullet of a spike that penetrated La Salle’s front row, but Guerrero displayed cat-like reflexes and saved the possession for DLSU to maintain a four-point lead heading into the final minutes of the set, 17-13.
With their confidence growing with every possession, DLSU fired off another 4-1 run with Anima and De Jesus scoring once again, forcing FEU to burn their final timeout for the set. Despite a spirited effort by FEU, the Green Spikers finished strong to ward off any hope for a comeback. Del Pilar and Kampton closed off the set, with the latter scoring two straight to secure the set for La Salle, 25-19.
Too little too late
Looking to redeem their second-set loss, Rey Diaz’s squad leaned on hefty serving and smart attacking to gain an early 3-2 lead. After Ronquillo’s attacks kept the early going close, the Tamaraws went on a tear as their offensive arsenal shone on the way to a comfortable 8-4 lead. Several errors from Morayta’s side, paired with strong attacking from star duo Kampton and Roqnullo, forced a deadlock, 10-all.
Taking back control of the set, star spiker Calado led the Tamaraws’ offensive onslaught as they regained the lead, 14-12. A variety of scoring opportunities provided by Martinez, Talisayan, and Buguan gave FEU the commanding 19-14 lead. Kampton and Del Pilar traded blows against Calado’s sharp attacks but a pipe attack from Talisayan gave FEU the biggest lead of the set, 22-16.
Determined to continue fighting for the set, the Green Spikers channeled their Taft Towers identity as they launched a 5-1 run built on three consecutive blocks by the Del Pilar, Anima, and De Jesus frontline, to edge closer at 23-21. Not to be denied, Saavedra challenged the La Salle frontline to give his squad the set point, 24-21. Ronquillo tried to extend the set but FEU captain Talisayan called the set as he punched an attack through the De Jesus block, giving the Tamaraws the set, 25-22.
After an exhausting set, both teams opened the fourth set with a lackadaisical approach, evidenced by three unforced errors early by both sides. Ronquillo punished the FEU defense with two straight spikes, but the continued errors suffered by La Salle failed to secure them a lead all through the technical timeout as the Tamaraws kept an 8-7 lead.
Bolstered by their head coach’s talk during the timeout, the Tamaraws fired off three straight unanswered points by Saavedra and Calado. The Spikers responded in the form of Anima, who proved why he is the league’s second-leading blocker. Facing a four-point deficit, the middle blocker anchored the DLSU defense, denying four straight spikes to even up the set. Kampton soon joined the block party, blocking one while Anima blocked another, securing a one-point lead for La Salle heading into the final possessions, 15-14.
Despite the impeccable defense showcased by DLSU’s blockers earlier, the Tamaraws did not slow down a beat with their attacks. Calado started heating up, but Ronquillo and Anima were there to keep the match even. With both teams at a stalemate, Jose Javelona proved to be the x-factor for FEU. While the starters were evenly matched throughout the set, Javelona came off the bench to supply the extra spark badly needed by his team. The mid-game substitute closed off the set for FEU, scoring on two spikes, his fourth overall, to win the set and the game, 25-22.
Recognizing their performance Calado hopes that this impressive win can inspire his teammates to continue playing stellar volleyball. “Sa sususnod sana, magtuloy tuloy sana siya hanggang championship. Malaking boost tong game na to para sa UST. Makikipagsabayan kami sa kanila,” he said. With possibly two more games left in their season, Calado ensures that this will not be their last victory.
(Next time, I hope this continues until the championship. This is a big boost for us against UST. We will go toe-to-toe with them.)
“‘Di yun huli naming ensayo. May UST pa, may championship pa,” he furthered.
(This is not our last outing. There’s still UST, and there’s still the championship.)
While their season may be over, the Green Spikers managed to improve significantly compared to their last outing during UAAP Season 81, where they finished sixth with a losing record of 5-9. This season, their renewed vigor and boosted efforts manifested themselves with an impressive 8-7 record and long-awaited return to the Final Four.
DLSU 1 – Kampton 18, Ronquillo 17, Anima 14, Del Pilar 10, De Jesus 5, Guerrero 1, Maglinao 1, Marata 1, Serrano 1, Phillips 0, Porquiata 0, Sumalinog 0
FEU 3 – Calado 22, Saavedra 12, Talisayan 12, Bugaoan, Martinez 5, Javelona 4, Abuniawan 2, Cacao 1, Cabatac 0, Cejales 0, Codilla 0, De Guzman 0, Domingo 0
Set Scores: 21-25, 25-19, 22-25, 22-25
One reply on “UAAP: Green Spikers fall to Tamaraws, end Season 85 campaign fourth”
Good day! Kampton was excellent in some points but we lacked the defense tactics necessary because the ball’s trajectory and speed vary from player to player as regards the opponents’ attacks. It’s a matter of luck for La Salle had it all advantageously, nonetheless. Next season will become the Champion. God bless!