UAAP: Green Spikers breeze past Adamson in sweep of S86 debut

The DLSU Green Spikers made quick work of the pesky AdU Soaring Falcons, 25-22, 25-23, 26-24, to show out a statement win and promising start to their Final Four revenge tour at their inaugural UAAP Season 86 Men’s Volleyball Tournament match earlier today, February 17, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Captain Archer JM Ronquillo led the blazing pack as he valiantly chalked 18 points off 16 attacks, one block, and an ace to snatch the team’s first Player of the Game accolade this season. Noel Kampton served as the Taft-based squad’s unsung hero, bringing out several bombs to notch 19 points via 15 attacks, two blocks, and two aces.

On the other side of the court, it was a team effort for Adamson as three players contributed double-digits in their losing bout that denied them from taking a single set. Rookie ace Joel Menor served as the team’s trailblazer, scoring 12 points on 11 attacks and a block. Meanwhile, Captain Falcon John Eugenio Gay and Marc Kenneth Paulino refused to back off as they respectively supplied 11 and 10 points to give the Falcons at least a fighting chance.

Immediate command

Enduring a hasty offense-defense pairing from the San Marcelino-based squad to begin the match, the Green Spikers were quick to recalibrate and eventually lead the majority of the set as spearheaded by twin attacks from Kampton and Vince Maglinao, tying the game at 2-all. The first moments of the opening set exhibited a back-and-forth dealing of deadlocks until La Salle wiggled out and widened the gap courtesy of recurring erroneous attempts from the Falcons, 12-8. Ronquillo made sure to let his presence known as he delivered diversified attacks ranging from soft touches and combination plays but also had his fair share of inconsistencies, pushing the ball off bounds—giving the Falcons some free points. 

Kampton proved himself to make the loudest noise as he delivered an unguarded quick attack off Diogenes Poquita’s coast-to-coast set, 20-16, and crosscourt headshot to the Adamsonian libero, 24-20, that both forced the light blue jerseys to call for a timeout. After two consecutive failed attempts to close the set by Billie Anima and Ronquillo, the team turned to Kampton’s down-the-line prowess to deny the Falcons the momentum and steal the opening set, 25-22. 

Showcasing their depth

La Salle found themselves playing catchup early into the second set, forcing several deadlocks as AdU’s rookie ace Menor continued to have his way with the DLSU defense. Yet, La Salle managed to take the lead late into the set, 16-15, with debuting setter Jerico Adajar coming to orchestrate the team’s offensive plays. The game continued in its back-and-forth manner until the combo of the Green-and-White’s robust floor defense and Adajar’s impressive play broke open the frame with a 3-0 run, 22-19.

The Soaring Falcons responded by calling for time. Still, the rejuvenated Green Spikers finished off the set strong despite a service error by Adajar as the newcomer continued to impress in his debut. He found Kampton and Ronquillo for the finishing touches to end the second set in favor of La Salle, 25-23.

Recover and conquer

The final set started like a deja vu to the opening set as Adamson hastily snatched two easy points before Kampton and Del Pilar retaliated with an off-the-block hit and a service ace to bring the set back to an even playing field. Also in similar fashion to the first, the set once again seemed like a game of seesaw as the teams constantly exchanged leads and fast recoveries. The men in green made sure to offensively capitalize on the opponent’s defensive hole in zone five as they repeatedly delivered several backline attacks and an impressive long one-two play from Poquita. But the Soaring Falcons enjoyed a late-game surge led by team captain Gay, who steered the team to as far as a three-point lead via two block piercers.

Coming off a service gift, Nathaniel Del Pilar quickly seized the chance to close the gap kept by the Falcons for most of the set by brushing the ball through the blockers’ fingers, 22-all, forcing the opposing team to call for their first timeout of the set. After a set-point scare courtesy of a service error by Gloria and an attack from Adamson’s Katigbak, the Green Spikers made sure to deny the Falcons a fourth set courtesy of three consecutive points off Maglinao’s off-the-block hit, Anima’s block, and Kampton’s classic off-the-block finisher to end the extended set and the match in favor of La Salle, 26-24.

When asked about the team’s win, DLSU Green Spikers’ Head Coach Jose Roque attributed the win simply to their readiness: “Prepared lang talaga kami. Though hindi pa gaanong ka-pulidonagkakataon kasi na nagkakaroon ng lapses in terms of communication—confident naman ako sa team ko na malalagpasan itong game na to.”

(We were really just prepared. Although our performance wasn’t that polished—it just so happened that we had a lot of errors in terms of communication—I’m still confident that my team will be able to surpass their performance this game.)

After his commendable Player of the Game-winning performance, Team Captain Ronquillo hopes that this win will serve as the catalyst to a successful run as his squad look to surpass their Final Four finish from their last campaign. The wing slicker states, “Thankful lang po kasi ako dahil nakuha namin yung panalo. Hopefully magtuloy-tuloy and makuha natin ang momentum natin hanggang dulo. So sana walang magre-relax sa mga teammates namin.

(I’m just thankful because we got the win. Hopefully, this continues, and we get our momentum until the end. So I hope my teammates don’t relax.)

Following this opening-day victory, the DLSU Green Spikers hope to make it two wins on the season when they take on the FEU Tamaraws on Wednesday, February 21, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. La Salle is looking to avenge their UAAP Season 85 Stepladder elimination that came from the hands of the team from Morayta.

The Scores:

DLSU 3 – Kampton 19, Ronquillo 18, Maglinao 8, Anima 4, Del Pilar is 4, Adajar 2, Poquita 3

AdU 0 – Menor 12, Paulino 11, Gay 10, Aguilar 7, Coguimbal 3, Domingo 2, Casas 1

Quarter Scores: 25-22, 25-23, 26-24

Diego Manzano

By Diego Manzano

John Rei Salanga

By John Rei Salanga

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