SSL: Lady Spikers recover from series-opening loss, sweep Lady Falcons to take gold

The DLSU Lady Spikers took the gold medal in the 2023 Shakey’s Super League National Invitationals after grinding out another three-set win over the AdU Lady Falcons, 25-19, 25-22, 25-17, in the deciding Game Three of the earlier tonight, August 13, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre. 

La Salle team captain Julia Coronel earned the Most Valuable Player of the Game accolade by tallying three points and 12 excellent sets. Leading all scorers in the vengeful game was Shevana Laput with 13 points while the trio of Thea Gagate, Alleiah Malaluan, and Amie Provido each chipped in with 10 markers.

Lucille Almonte led the charge for Adamson with 11 points. Supporting her with eight points apiece were Ayesha Juegos and Lorene Toring.

Game of wits

The Lady Spikers blitzed the Lady Falcons to open the game, going up early, 3-0, after points by Maicah Larroza, Julyana Tolentino, and Laput. Adamson answered with a three-point run to tie the scoreline, 3-all. The towering duo of Laput and Gagate attempted to send DLSU into the first technical timeout of the set ahead, but it was not enough as the Green and White trailed by a lone point entering the break, 8-7. 

From then, neither team managed to pull away until Larroza’s kill put her side ahead by two, 14-12. With momentum on her team’s side, Gagate continued to go to work, posting six points and fighting off a 4-0 run by Adamson as DLSU went up 21-16 to near their first set win. Looking to go one set closer to the title, it was Provido who reemerged big for La Salle by scoring two straight points with a block and joust, 25-19.

Championship pedigree

After a strong ending to the opening frame, DLSU was far from ready to back down against their opponents from Ermita, immediately going up 8-2 despite the Lady Falcons burning their first timeout of the set early. Adamson remained unanswered as Laput, Malaluan, and Provido had their way with the blocks they were faced with, wiping the ball off the Adamson hands as the team from Taft cruised to an eight-point advantage, 12-4. 

It was Coronel who allowed La Salle to suddenly run away with the set, sandwiching an Adamson error with a through-the-block spike and a kill block, 16-5. AdU did not back down, however, cutting the lead to single digits at 16-7 after a block by Toring. The Green and White were unable to further push their lead—much in part to their errors—despite points by Larroza and Laput. This resulted in the Lady Falcons earning three straight points, 18-10, to the dismay of DLSU Head Coach Ramil de Jesus who called for time. This was unable to turn the tides, however, as a block from Ancheta and a kill by Almonte greeted the return of play to keep La Salle in a stagnant pace,  to 18-12. 

An error by the Lady Falcons and a Malaluan cross-court kill brought the lead back up to eight, 20-12, but AdU remained relentless. Errors began to pile up for La Salle as Adamson managed to get within striking distance after a 6-1 run, 21-18. Malaluan and Soreño managed to carve out points to stop the bleeding, 23-19, but AdU continued to creep closer. An error by the wing spiker signified the start of a 3-0 run, resulting in La Salle’s lead dwindling to just one, 23-22. Not looking to crumble again in the series, it was the twin towers of Provido and Gagate who took the set win for DLSU, 25-22, after a quick-attack conversion and a kill block, respectively.

Taking the gold 

With their squad just one set win away from the title, the athletic duo of Malaluan and Laput continued to go to work—taking turns tallying kills to put their side up by three, 7-4. After sending the game into the first technical timeout of the eventual final set, Provido nailed a sliding attack to bring the scoreline to 9-5 in favor of La Salle. Errors from AdU set the stage for the Green and White to cruise the set—with Larroza and Laput further pushing La Salle forward, 14-8.  

Even with their title hopes grimmer than ever, AdU still refused to give up, with Almonte capping off a 3-0 run with a finesse-filled finish. Their momentum was soon halted as two more errors from Adamson saw DLSU reach the second technical timeout up comfortably, 16-11. After a power tip by Provido, the Lady Falcons proved to be the makers of their own demise, handing the UAAP 85 Champions two points before Gagate converted a patented sliding attack, 20-14. It was more of the same as La Salle inched toward set point, 23-15. Stepping up to close out the game was Malaluan, who shone the brightest with all eyes on her by scoring a down-the-line hit and a wipe to take the championship point, 25-17.

With another trophy going into the Lady Spikers’ cabinet, DLSU assistant coach Noel Orcullo asserts, “Exposure yung hanap namin dito, bonus [nalang yung title].”

(We were looking for exposure, the title is an added bonus.)

In the eyes of the La Salle mentor however, there is still much to work on, “[In my] assessment, marami pang kailangan baguhin, [kasama dyan ang] connections ng mga setters since tatlong setters yung pinaikot namin. Kailangan pa ng magandang connection.”

(In my assessment, there’s still a lot to change, including the connection of our setters since we rotate three of them. They still need a good connection.)

One player he had praise for, however, was Laput. While he acknowledges her lacking effort in the final game of the tournament, he hailed her as the side’s most consistent player. Orcullo adds, “Sana madala niya yung experience niya dito [moving forward].”

(I hope she brings this experience with her moving forward.)

This closes  the 2023 Shakey’s Super League National Invitationals end with the DLSU Lady Spikers 

The Scores:

DLSU 3 – Laput 13, Gagate 10, Malaluan 10, Provido 10, Larroza 7, Coronel 3, Soreño 3, Tolentino 1

AdU 0 – Almonte 11, Juegos 8, Toring 8, Ancheta 6, Lalongisip 5, Bascon 3

Set Scores: 24-19, 25-22, 25-17

Diego Manzano

By Diego Manzano

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