UAAP: Green Spikers end at Sands with heads high, improve on previous placement

The DLSU Green Spikers encountered a formidable challenge before securing their final victory in the concluding weekend of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Beach Volleyball Tournament last November 24 to 25 at the Sands SM by the Bay.

Despite failing to advance in the Final Four round of the competition, seasoned players Andre Espejo, Vince Maglinao, and Von Marata led the charge in cementing a fifth-spot finish, stockpiling two defeats from archrival ADMU Blue Eagles and the fourth-seeded FEU Tamaraws but emerging victorious against the UP Fighting Maroons in the closing weekend. This achievement marked an improvement from last season’s sixth-place finish.

Missing spark

The Green Spikers faced off against the tough tandem of FEU’s Vincent Nadera and JJ Javelona. Unfortunately, they fell short of claiming another victory, losing in two straight sets, 21-14, 21-14, against the Tamaraws. Despite a glimpse of hope, they confronted their rivals, the Blue Eagles, later that day. 

With their clever attacks and gritty defense, they managed to keep La Salle afloat, 11-9, in the first set. However, Jian Salarzon and Amil Pacinio’s strategic play, combined with unforced errors on the part of the Green Spikers, allowed the Eagles to prevent them from securing a spot in the semifinals, with scores of 21-16, 21-13 in favor of ADMU.

Espejo acknowledged that even with their impeccable talents, there is still room for improvement. “Kailangan pa namin ng improvement in terms of skills. I mean, okay naman na kami sa skills eh, pero siguro polishing na lang nito. And pinaka-main objective talaga namin here is service namin, since doon kamin naga lack, doon kami nagkakaroon ng maraming errors.”

(We still need improvement in terms of skills. I mean, our skills are okay, but perhaps we just need to polish them. Our main objective here is our services because that’s where we are lacking, and that’s where we make a lot of errors.)

Thread the needle

After facing consecutive defeats in their Friday double-header against ADMU and FEU, Maglinao shared that they prepared thoroughly for their final match against the Fighting Maroons. “Siguro yung preparation going to this game is all about mindset. We didn’t make it sa Final Four, so ito yung last game namin, so we better go down swinging—I mean, it’s better to end our campaign sa beach volleyball on a high note.”

Maglinao and Espejo’s resilience was evident in their closely contested match against the University of the Philippines’ Christian Pitogo and Gelo Lipata. With 11 deadlocks, the game was tied at 20-all. However, Espejo’s corner pocket hit and monster block propelled the Green and White to secure the first set with a score of 22-20. 

In the second set, the UP duo gained an early four-point cushion, leading 13-9. Despite the challenge, the Taft Spikers gained momentum with a solid defense pattern and army of aggressive spikes to secure a three-point lead at 19-16. Lefty-hitter Marata, substituting for Espejo, cleverly outsmarted the Katipuneros’ receiving pattern, clinching the game for DLSU with a score of 21-18.

Capping their season with a 3-4 win-loss standing, the players from Taft finished in fifth place in the seaside affair, improving their six-spot placement in UAAP Season 85. Maglinao was beaming with appreciation toward their supporters for their constant and unwavering presence throughout their campaign. 

“To the La Salle community, supporters, coaches, teammates, and fans, we would like to give our heartfelt thanks to everyone. Kasi, they are always there, they’ve always believed in us, kahit na we failed to make it in the Final Four again. But, sobrang grateful, sobrang happy na andiyan sila palagi to cheer us.”

(But still, I am grateful and happy that they are always there to cheer us.)

Zedi Perez

By Zedi Perez

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