SSL: Lady Spikers fall short to open best-of-three finals versus Lady Falcons

The DLSU Lady Spikers failed to maintain their unblemished record in the Shakey’s Super League National Invitationals Finals as they succumbed to the Adamson Lady Falcons in a grueling five-set thriller in Game One, 25-22, 17-25, 25-17, 25-27, 14-16, earlier tonight, August 9, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

Despite the tough loss, Shevana Laput led the Lady Spikers in the scoring with a career-high performance of 30 points with four blocks and four service aces. This was echoed by her teammates Alleiah Malaluan and Thea Gagate who contributed 14 points with three blocks and six service aces. Meanwhile, Jyne Soreño also posted double-digits with 11 points and one service ace. 

Persevering in the match, team captain Lucille Almonte bagged the player of the game award as she led the Lady Falcons to victory with 24 points, three aces, and one block. Supporting her was opposite spiker Ayesha Juegos with 13 points in the match.

A close start 

After falling down by two early in the game, the left-handed Soreño struck the Green and White’s first point with an attack, 2-1. The match was a close affair from the get-go with Adamson and La Salle persistently exchanging points. It wasn’t until Malaluan’s back-to-back points  gave La Salle some breathing room with a three-point lead, 5-2. The lead stayed with the Lady Spikers as Malaluan chipped in another kill to stay hot, giving her team a five-point buffer heading into the first technical time out, 8-3. 

However, three consecutive errors from La Salle saw their lead diminish to a solitary point, 8-7. The tight affair continued as Gagate scored a service ace followed by an attack error from Sharya Ancheta—seeing La Salle head into the second technical timeout up by three, 16-13. AdU continued to cut the DLSU lead to one after back-to-back points before a freebie courtesy of an error from Amie Provido. 

With the first frame in favor of the Green and White at 23-18, the Lady Falcons were able to hold onto their lifeline and prevent the Lady Spikers from reaching their set point. La Salle finally managed to power through as Gagate finished the first set with an attack, 25-22.

Sluggish reception 

After claiming the first set to put the momentum of the game on their side, DLSU suffered on the defensive side of the court as Adamson went with a six-point run at the start of the second set, 6-0. Fortunately for the team from Taft, a service error from Adamson ended the run—giving DLSU their first point, 6-1. This was followed by a running attack from Lorene Toring that gave a six-point advantage to her team, 7-1. 

With his six on the floor still unable to minimize their errors, Head Coach Ramil de Jesus subbed in Maicah Larroza and Ela Raagas—but Adamson still held the lead at seven, 14-7. However, a crucial attack error from DLSU allowed Adamson to hold a nine-point lead heading into the second technical timeout of the second set, 16-7.

Finally adjusting their plays, the Larroza and Gagate tandem managed to shrink the deficit as they blocked an attack from the Lady Falcons, 18-12. This was echoed by back-to-back points from Laput, which gave her team momentum to get their heads back into the game, 20-14. Despite adjusting their plays toward the end of the second set, Adamson continued to display their dominance as Ancheta ended the second frame, tying the match at one set each, 25-17.

Sharp comeback

The Lady Spikers entered the third set with a service error from rookie setter Ela Raagas, 1-0. La Salle’s early-set struggles continued in the beginning of the third, with an exchange of points from the two UAAP sides. Provido scored an attack point which was then followed by an attack error by the Lady Falcons, giving the Lady Spikers a two-point lead, 7-5. Provido continued to contribute with a block which brought the game to its first technical timeout with a three-point lead, 8-5.

Unable to keep the momentum going, La Salle was bogged down by back-to-back points  and an error by Laput, which tied the match at 8-all. The continuous errors of both squads came to an end after Larroza’s cross-court attack  brought the score to 13-12. Further contributions by Laput and Provido gave the Lady Spikers a four-point lead, 19-15. Nearing their second set win of the game, Soreño made her commanding presence felt in the latter as she chipped in five points including a down-the-line attack to finish the third set at 25-17. 

Unable to close it out 

After leveling the match score in the third set, the Lady Spikers adjusted their offensive plays as they went on a 4-1 run to start off the fourth set. This was topped off by a powerful spike from Malaluan, 5-1. However, Adamson’s Ancheta managed to end La Salle’s run by scoring off a quick attack, 6-2. Provido immediately answered back as she scored off a fast play which propelled her team into the first technical timeout, 8-2. 

After a grueling exchange of plays, the Lady Falcons managed to stop La Salle’s momentum with a monster block, 11-3. This was echoed by Bascon who scored off an over-received ball from Laput, cutting down the Taft-based team’s lead to three, 13-10. Unable to bring the scoreline closer in their favor, Adamson further committed a service error that put the Lady Spikers in the advantage heading into the second technical timeout, 16-11. 

Coming out of the break, La Salle managed to go on a heated four-point run—which was halted by team captain Almonte, 20-13.Adamson adjusted to the pacing quickly as they managed to catch up to the Green and White— suddenly trimming down a six-point lead to a one, 20-19. After a nip-and-tuck exchange of plays, a crucial attack error from Adamson put La Salle at match point, 24-23. The first game of the series looked like another easy win for the Lady Spikers for most of the fourth, but the match was all of a sudden threatening to become a five-set affair after Basco extended the set, 24-all. With La Salle having lost their footing in the match, Provido committed an unexpected error which put Adamson in the lead, 25-24. Adamson rattled DLSU’s defense and finally ended the extended fourth set in their favor—pushing a deciding fifth set, 27-25. 

Tough loss

Coming from an upsetting loss in the fourth set, the Lady Spikers aimed to bounce back at the fifth. Laput scored the team’s first point in the set but was immediately followed by a point by Adamson’s team captain Almonte. The exchange by both teams continued until the dawn of the match’s last technical timeout, with the Lady Spikers leading by one after an opposing service error, 8-7. 

Malaluan was able to score a point after an outside attack error which brought the score to 9-all. Following this, La Salle tallied a three-point run after back-to-back points by Gagate and an attack by Larroza, 13-all. Aiming to complete the comeback for her side, Angelica Alcantara earned a kill on a drop ball to bring Adamson to match point, 14-13. Adamson was only two points away from shocking the UAAP Season 85 Champions, when Bascon stepped up and ended the match with back-to-back points, granting Adamson the first win in the Finals, 16-14.

After this nail-biting defeat, the DLSU Lady Spikers aim to bounce back against the AdU Lady Falcons and hold on to their championship hopes as they enter Game Two of the best-of-three  series at 4 pm on August 12 at the same venue. 

The Scores:

DLSU 2 – Laput 30, Gagate 14, Malauan 14, Soreño 11,  Provido 8, Larroza 7, Raagas 1, Torres 0, Coronel 0, Tolentino 0, Espina 0, De Leon 0 

AdU 3 – Almonte 24, Juegos 13, Ancheta 10, Toring 10, Bascon 7, Alcantara 5, Lalongisip 5 

Set Scores: 25-22, 17-25, 25-17, 25-27, 14-16

Tana Melgar

By Tana Melgar

Samantha Vidal

By Samantha Vidal

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