The DLSU Green and Lady Paddlers returned in Season 86, following a long offseason, after last year’s tournament that concluded with mixed results from both divisions. The Men’s team evened their record in their Round One campaign, going 3-3, outlasting the UP Fighting Maroons, UE Red Warriors, and the AdU Soaring Falcons. Meanwhile, the defending champion Women’s team dominated their division with a 5-1 record, with their sole loss coming at the hands of the UST Growling Tigresses.
Making a statement
The Lady Paddlers showcased their championship prowess as they earned 17 wins in the 21 games played in the first round, including sweeps against the UP Fighting Maroons, AdU Lady Falcons, FEU Lady Tamaraws, and UE Lady Warriors.
On Day One, La Salle’s Women’s team stood tall with no team-tie losses. After rookie Shyrein Redoquero dropped the squad’s opening match in four close sets, the Lady Paddlers would go on to topple their opponents. DLSU’s Angelou Laude, Kyla Bernaldez, and co-captain Jannah Romero shined in their Singles matches with excellent ball control and receptions, all sweeping ADMU’s Jelaine Monteclaro and Anna Fabregar, UP’s Vianne Depiedra and Althaea Salvador, and AdU’s Erika Lapuz and Maiko Macatangay.
Meanwhile, Mariana Caoile and Q. Teodoro’s duo did not drop a single set in the Lady Paddlers’ Doubles matches. The pair excelled in complementing each other’s skillset through their coordinated lateral movement and quick decision-making that had the Green and White one step ahead of their opponents.
La Salle ended Day One winning nine out of 10 games played, making a statement that they were ready for their title defense with a win-loss record of 3-0.
Display of resilience
On the following day, the Lady Paddlers were set to go up against their Season 85 Championship competitors for their first match. Growling Tigresses Janna Paculba and Kathlyn Gabisay were unable to overcome Laude and Romero, respectively, in the first two Singles matches, both in four sets. The team-tie score was 2-0, with La Salle only needing one more win to put the España-based team away with a sweep. However, the Caoile-Teodoro tandem faced their first defeat of the season at the hands of UST’s Ciara Derecho and Jamielyn Villabon.
After the Taft-based duo won three straight matches on Day One, they were unable to maintain their perfect Doubles record. The pair suffered a sweep, unable to score more than eight points in the three sets played. It was up to Bernaldez and Redoquero to put DLSU over the hump by winning a singles match. However, UST completed their comeback with Kaye Encarnacion and Corrine Cartera, turning the team-tie score around in favor of their team, 3-2.
After the Lady Paddlers got their first loss of the season, moving forward and focusing on the next game was necessary to end Round One on a strong note. La Salle’s Women’s team did not let the game against UST get to their head as they made light work of the Lady Tamaraws and Lady Warriors, regaining their momentum by sweeping both teams, 3-0. Redoquero was able to avenge her two losses, while Laude and Romero added to their perfect Singles records. The trio was able to dominate FEU’s Miriam Martinez and Aizel Rom, and UE’s Isabel Perez and Jean Ramos.
In the process, DLSU did not allow UE to score more than five points. In the Doubles matches, Caoile and Teodoro successfully capped off the games for La Salle, completing DLSU’s Round One campaign with a 5-1 record while also handing the Lady Tamaraws their only loss of the season so far, giving the Lady Paddlers the first seed.
The Green Paddlers were less successful than their female counterparts on Day One. They managed to sweep UP in their opening match of Season 86, courtesy of Dino Marcelo and Elijah Yamson besting Fighting Maroons Paul Tolentino and Gabriel Nieva in the Singles games, and co-captain Marwin Eder and LJ Crisostomo coming out on top in five sets against the Diliman-based duo of Judah Cagas and Earnst Salloman for the Doubles match. But La Salle faced adversity in their succeeding battles.
In the Green and White’s match against FEU, Yamson and Morison Torres split their Singles matches against Tamaraws Christian Golez and Dane Piala to give both teams a team-tie score of 1-all. The tandem of Eder and Crisostomo rallied their Doubles game, winning over Manuel Siarez and Claer Riego. DLSU were up 2-1, needing only a single victory to earn their second win of the season. However, Marcelo and Andrei Villacruel could not capitalize on the lead, losing in three and five sets, respectively, against FEU’s Arsenio de Guzman and Peter Cubio. La Salle then had a 1-1 record after their second game.
For their final match of Day One, the Green Paddlers went head-to-head against the ADMU Blue Eagles. However, the Katipunan-based team dominated the La Salle team that lacked resiliency and ball control, completing a 3-0 sweep. Yamson, rookie Troy Docto, and the Eder-Crisostomo duo were no match for Blue Eagles Rod Garcia, Mahendra Cabrido, and Wrency Abad and Victor de Asis pairing. Ateneo took control of the match after Garcia’s five-set win over Yamson, sweeping the succeeding games with steadiness and good adjustments following their errors. By the end of Day One, the Green Paddlers held a 1-2 record but had their eyes on a bounce back for the next three games.
Evening the odds
La Salle arrived on Day Two, already hungry to improve their record. However, they were set for an up-and-down outing for the second half of the First Round. For their first match, the Green Paddlers met the Red Warriors. Yamson, Torres, and the duo of Eder-Crisostomo all tallied victories for DLSU in several close sets, especially in the Doubles game. The team defeated UE’s Johnster Rosales, Laridje Legaspi, Kyle Lanzaderas, and Runmar Quipanes. After a team-tie score of 3-0, the Green and White’s win-loss record improved to an even 2-2.
Following the win against UE, the Green Paddlers fell prey to the defending champion UST Growling Tigers after losing all matches, 3-0. The same four played for DLSU against the España-based squad’s Alvin Sevilla, John Castro, Abraham Antivo, and Al Sanchez. However, La Salle was unable to mirror the results of the previous game, tallying their third loss of the tournament.
In the Green Paddlers’ final match of the First Round, they were slated to play against the Soaring Falcons. Josiah Espinosa made his season debut but dropped his game against AdU’s Amiel Aroma. However, Yamson, Eder and Crisostomo, and Torres collected three-straight wins for DLSU versus Soaring Falcons Jed Villaviray, Jhon Balucos and Aldrean Gacho, and Amiel Sumadsad, finishing the battle against Adamson with a 3-1 victory.
With the final win, the Green Paddlers concluded their Round One campaign with an even 3-3 record, good enough to be tied with FEU for the third-best record in the Men’s Division.
Crisostomo shared the team’s preparations in the offseason heading into the tournament, “Ilang months kami talagang nag-prepare… January pa lang, nag-start na kami, knowing na in the past season, we came short [after finishing] fourth. We started early this year kasi alam naming madami pa kaming [mai-improve] talaga.”
(We really prepared for months. We started last January, knowing that we came short after finishing fourth in the past season. We started early this year because we knew that we had a lot of things that we can improve on.)
Meanwhile for the title-defending Lady Paddlers, co-captain Teodoro gave props to her team for their mindset in their return to the floor, “Coming into this tournament, we just had the mindset of giving our best. Whether we’re [at] the table or on the bleachers, we fight for every point no matter what.”
“We don’t let [the losses] faze us. What they do to us is they motivate us to give more… We are also there for each other. Whatever [the team] showed today, dapat lamangan [palagi] tomorrow,” she added.
(Whatever the team showed today should always be better tomorrow.)
Round One Scores
DLSU 3 – 0 UP
DLSU 2 – 3 FEU
DLSU 0 – 3 ADMU
DLSU 3 – 0 UE
DLSU 0 – 3 UST
DLSU 3 – 1 AdU
DLSU 3 – 1 ADMU
DLSU 3 – 0 UP
DLSU 3 – 0 AdU
DLSU 2 – 3 UST
DLSU 3 – 0 FEU
DLSU 3 – 0 UE