The DLSU Green Spikers fastened a do-or-die game in the 2023 V-League Collegiate Challenge semifinal series after pummeling their archrivals ADMU Blue Eagles in straight sets, 25-21, 25-21, 25-21, at the Paco Arena today, September 22.
Noel Kampton anchored the win for La Salle, accumulating 26 points with 23 commanding attacks, two service aces, and 17 excellent receptions. The wing spiker was reinforced by Vince Maglinao, who tallied 15 points. Libero Menard Guerrero’s tenacity secured the victory as he nabbed 18 excellent receptions and eight impressive digs.
In a losing effort, Amil Pacinio marked 15 big points, all coming from spikes. He was backed up by Kenedy Batas and Jian Salarzon who both racked up 11 points for Ateneo.
Coming in hot
Fiery hitter Kampton started strong as he pounded the ball to the pavement to get La Salle to an early lead in the first set, 3-2. Yet, unforced errors kept the Eagles close—with Pacinio returning the favor after committing a net fault that induced a 9-2 run for the Green Spikers, 13-8. After countless attempts to stop DLSU’s momentum, Salarzon denied a hit from the opposite side to keep Ateneo afloat, 13-9. Batas aided his fellow wingman after striking two consecutive spikes to deplete the advantage of the Green and White squad, 15-12.
A duel between the open hitters roused after the first technical timeout, as Pacinio and Kampton threw down-the-line attacks, 18-15. Guerrero managed to dig a monstrous crosscourt shot from the blue side which was quickly converted into a point by Kampton, 19-15. In the end, La Salle’s team effort thrust the team to draw first blood against their rival, 25-21.
Coming in at a disadvantage in the first part of the second set, the Green Spikers managed to snatch a comeback to take the second set of the ballgame, 25-21. The six from Taft started on the wrong foot as the Blue Eagles showered varied hits on top of La Salle’s unforced errors, letting Ateneo take the lead for the first time, 8-6. It was a one-man show for DLSU, as Kampton continued to hammer the ball thrice, 9-all. However, Pacinio and Batas managed to squeeze points inside the blockers, 13-11. A back quick by Gopio immediately widened the cushion to three, 14-11.
The wing spikers of DLSU had their own trick up their sleeves as motley attacks from Maglinao and Kampton shook off their sluggish start with a 7-0 run, 18-14. Despite the gallant defense of Ateneo’s blocking, the five-foot-ten Maglinao broke down the Katipunan wall to inch closer to La Salle’s second set win, 24-20. Jetlee Gopio, on the other hand, tried to keep the Eagles alive as he scored from a running hit, but Maglinao hit the trail of zone five hot to pluck another set from Ateneo.
Leading the ballgame with two sets to the Blue Eagles’ none, the Green Spikers were eager to force a deciding match as John Mark Ronquillo pummeled a pipe attack and a solid kill block to set a two-point lead, 4-2. Kampton also continued to contribute points from the back row and service line to pressure Ateneo into a timeout, but Salarzon retaliated after brushing it off to the hands of the blocker to stop the bleeding for his side, 6-3. Errors amassed the Taft-based squad, allowing the Blue Eagles to cut the lead down to one, 7-6. Inching closer to La Salle, the battle between middle blockers ensued as Gopio denied a strong hit by Kampton, 8-7. Del Pilar answered by showcasing his smart thinking as a gentle tip allowed the Green Spikers to regroup, 9-8.
After a solid denial, Kampton regained composure as he drilled more spikes between the blockers of Ateneo to claim a comfortable five-point lead, 14-9. Ateneo fought to hold onto the game, but Ronquillo’s down-the-line attack extended their cushion to six, 19-13. However, the men in blue took it slow and steady when Pacinio and Salarzon rose to the occasion, showering attacks from the wings, all of a sudden putting the match at a 19-all deadlock. The nailbiting rivalry was showcased in the latter part of the match, as two consecutive kill blocks from Atenean setter Lorenzo Guiterrez allowed his side to stay alive, 20-all. Not handing Ateneo any chances, Kampton and Ronquillo’s athletic adroitness allowed them to outstrip the Blue Eagles, ending the game at 25-21.
After securing the second game of the semifinal round in the 2023 V-League Collegiate Challenge, the DLSU Green Spikers seek to clinch the last finals ticket with a rematch against the valor of ADMU Blue Eagles on Sunday, September 24, at 4 pm at the same venue.
DLSU 3 – Kampton 26, Maglinao 15, Ronquillo 8, Del Pilar 6, Layug 5, Poquita 1, Espejo 0, Gloria 0, Guerrero 0
ADMU 0 – Pacinio 15, Batas 11, Salarzon 11, Gopio 5, Guiterrez 2, Mangulabnan 0, Taneo 0, Garcia 0, De castro 0
Set Scores: 25-21, 25-21, 25-21