The DLSU Green and Lady Paddlers finish Round Two of Season 86 strong, with both teams securing a spot in the Final Four. The men’s team dismantled the UE Red Warriors and UP Fighting Maroons, improving to an 8-4 standing and getting a move onto the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Lady Paddlers continued to show their championship prowess against the UP Fighting Maroons and longtime rivals ADMU Blue Eagles, maintaining their number one spot as the elimination rounds ended.
Although Mary Go started with an unfortunate loss against UP’s Loli Tapia, the Lady Paddler still swept the Fighting Maroons in the next three games, securing yet another win for La Salle, 3-1. Angelou Laude controlled the playing field against Beatriz Vidallo during the next singles match without dropping a single set to begin DLSU’s momentum. The Taft-based duo of rookie Shyrein Redoquerio and Mariana Caoile capitalized on their excellent coordination to ascend above UP’s pair of Ella Hicap and Quina Lozada. Green and White Co-captain Jannah Romero would close out the series with a flawless record of 3-0 against Althaea Salvador.
Regardless of their number one standing, the Lady Paddlers remained diligent against their final opponents and generational rivals Blue Eagles. Unfortunately, the series started with a shaky game for DLSU Captain Q Teodoro in the first set, as she tried to find her groove against Ateneo’s Jelaine Monteclaro, 1-0. Despite efforts to change her approach, Teodoro went back and forth against Monteclaro in the second set, failing to close out the game and eventually falling apart in a swift third set from the Blue Eagles, 3-0.
Even in the face of their commander suffering defeat to the eagles from Katipunan, the Ladies stood valorous and resolute. The gritty and tenacious Laude duked it out to avenge the collapse in a single match with Ann Borbon, as she rallied back and forth with her opponent, eventually winning, 3-1, and equalizing to Ateneo at one match apiece. Redoquerio and Caoile’s doubles match did not turn out as desired, as they were defeated by Ateneo’s Aguilar and Bulaquena, 3-2, in a close game that went to five sets. Romero followed with a clean and swift 3-0 win in the singles match that would force a fifth match by tying the head-to-head, 2-all.
With the series tied, Kyla Bernaldez hammered the final nail in the coffin for the Blue Eagles, finishing off the matchup against Anna Fabregar in an impressive performance, 3-0. In an attempt to snatch the game and earn a win for ADMU, Fabregar rallied gallantly against Bernaldez. However, the latter analytically viewed the table and took advantage of the holes in her opponent’s defense, striking smashes on their weak points as they breezed through the game, 3-0. With an explosive game, the DLSU Lady Paddlers ended Round Two of the season at the top with a clean standing of 11-1 going into the playoffs.
Earning their spot
With the Lady Paddlers aiming for a back-to-back championship, the Green Paddlers set their sights on standing alongside the Ladies going into the playoffs, focusing on a spot in the Final Four as they stand in third place behind UST and ADMU. DLSU’s Elijah Yamson immediately set the pace against Johnster Rosales of the UE Red Warriors, hitting incredibly dominant smashes to bring Rosales to his knees, 1-0.
With the second game coming in, rookie Troy Docto showed what he could bring to the table, following in the footsteps of his seniors and sweeping Kurt Villarico with excellent resiliency and ball control. This brought terror to UE as they became one game closer to another loss, 2-0. The veteran La Salle duo of captain Marwin Eder and Christian Crisostomo looked to close out the series in a clean fashion, as they faced hurdles from Kevin Muriel and Lei Perez looking to stop them in their tracks. Eder and Crisostomo quickly took the first two sets from the UE duo, 2-0. However, the team from Recto went back to the drawing board and retaliated with two sets of their own, 2-2. Using their unmatched chemistry, the Taft-based duo disrupted Muriel and Perez’s momentum and concluded the series with a swift finish on the fifth set, improving the Green and White’s record to 7-4.
Following the win over UE, the Green Paddlers faced the UP Fighting Maroons and won 3-1, only dropping the doubles game. Docto contributed the opening win for the Green and White, winning a close match against UP’s John Pacis, 3-2, in a tight five-set win. Yamson quickly followed suit, winning in straight sets in the following singles matchup, 3-0.
With only one win needed to seal the victory over the team from Katipunan, Eder and Crisostomo failed to win the five-set doubles match, wherein the third set was lost at a staggering 17-15 scoreline. Eager to prevent a comeback loss, Red Torres delivered the final blow by triumphing, 3-1, in the singles match despite losing the first set of the match.
On to the next
Wrapping up Round Two of the event atop the standings are the Lady Paddlers, who sit on an 11-1 win-loss record, while the Green Paddlers finish at the third seed with an 8-4 win-loss record.
Going into the Final Four playoffs, the Lady Paddlers’ Redoquerio shared that the team wants to “give our best na lang talaga… Alam namin na nandun po kami [para] sa teammates namin na naglalaro na sumusuporta fully.” Bernaldez echoed this, emphasizing the necessity of positive thinking to stay driven and undistracted in their pursuit of UAAP Season 86’s Table Tennis Championship trophy.
(We will really have to give our best… We know that we’re here to support our teammates who are playing.)
Marwin Heder of the men’s team reflected on their season and shared that the team learned “to start strong and finish strong”—a lesson that will prove vital in the closing games of the season. He also shared that the team’s mindset and approach for the upcoming playoffs leans on honing their mental resilience and teamwork in order to bring the best out of the team.
As the playoffs approach, the Green and Lady Paddlers look to build off a solid finish to Round Two of the tournament with two more big wins.
DLSU 3 – 0 UE
DLSU 3 – 1 UP
DLSU 3 – 1 UP
DLSU 3 – 2 ADMU