UAAP: Lady Spikers shut down gutsy Lady Tamaraws in second consecutive three-set affair

The DLSU Lady Spikers brought home their second-straight victory in the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Volleyball Tournament after taming the FEU Lady Tamaraws in straight sets, 25-20, 25-17, 25-22, earlier today, February 21, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Leading her team to victory was Lyka de Leon, who posted 16 excellent digs and 12 excellent receptions, earning her the Player of the Game award after a brilliant defensive performance. This was echoed by last season’s Rookie-MVP Angel Canino, who contributed 13 points, together with Shevana Laput, who chipped in 10 points. 

Despite the tough loss, Gerzel Petallo led the FEU Lady Tamaraws in the scoring with seven points, followed by Faida Bakanke, Jean Asis, Chenie Tagaod, and Alyzza Devosora, who all contributed six points each. 

Whirlwind start

The defending champions wasted no time in exhibiting their prowess in the first set as Gagate drew first blood through her classic quick attack and umbrella block to immediately put La Salle on the scoreboard, 2-0. But the Morayta-based squad did not back down as the likes of Tagaod and Bakanke’s servings of crosscourt bombs and off-the-block soft touches spearheaded the Lady Tamaraws’ valiant efforts to keep the game within easy reach, 10-9. However, as errors by the ladies in yellow persisted, La Salle was able to exact a 3-0 run boosted by Gagate’s narrow service into the backline, prompting the Lady Tamaraws to call a timeout, 13-9. 

Rookie-MVP Canino also made her presence known as she flexed her offensive valor through down-the-line and crosscourt arrows to give the Green-and-White a comfortable five-point lead, 16-11. But Tamaraw Petallo refused to let her team drown as she showed out with two consecutive points off a down-the-line charge and an off-the-block softie, 16-13, to prompt a timeout buzzer from the Taft side. 

Legendary Head Coach Ramil De Jesus’ urgency was successful as the Lady Spikers managed to cut the foe’s momentum and chalk three straight points capped off by a back row attack from Canino, 19-13, returning the favor back to FEU and forcing them to use their last timeout of the set. 

Coming into the home stretch of the first set, both teams exchanged their own sets of offensive and defensive facets alongside erroneous attempts. In the end, the Lady Spikers proved to be the better team as Canino’s down-the-line attack and Malaluan’s putback off a gift lent the ladies in green the opening set, 25-20.

Blitzering momentum 

In an attempt to keep the Lady Tamaraws at bay, the Green-and-White opened the second set of the match with a solid 4-1 run orchestrated by the Gagate-Laput tandem at the net. FEU struggled to keep up with the fast-paced offense displayed by the La Salle squad—as the Morayta-based squad could not convert attacks from all parts of the net. This gave way to a fair exchange of plays from both teams, but Team Captain Julia Coronel rattled FEU’s floor defense with a surprise one-two play. This propelled her team to the first technical timeout of the set with a four-point advantage, 8-4. Coming off the break, the Lady Spikers stumbled in their reception as they gave up consecutive unforced errors—giving FEU free points from left to right, 10-7. 

After a fair exchange of rallies from both sides of the net, La Salle recovered from this hurdle when Laput squeezed in back-to-back markers that were followed by successive errors by FEU. This put DLSU in the lead heading into the second technical timeout, 16-10. The Taft-based team continued their high-speed hits and net defense, fueling the momentum on their side; this was topped off by Jyne Soreño, who was subbed in and immediately denied an attack from FEU, 21-16. The ladies in white seemed unfazed by the Lady Tamaraws’ attempt to close the gap, as a careless net touch from them handed La Salle the set, 25-17.  

Resist and persist

Gagate once again opened the third set in blitz fashion as she stabbed a quick dagger akin to the first-set shedding, but Lady Tamaraw Bakanke immediately brought back the favor and retaliated with a crosscourt hit. Early into the closing set, the Lady Spikers suffered late-game jitters after several unforced errors at the hands of spiker Laput and three straight points courtesy of a block, putback, and quick attack—all under Asis’ belt—gave the Tamaraws their first lead of the match, 6-4. 

After being dormant for most of the match, the dragon in Amie Provido awakened as she shot a fiery ball down the middle, followed by an easy ace from Canino to bring back the lead to Taft, 9-7. The setting department seemed to be the achilles’ heel to La Salle as several setting miscalculations from Captain Coronel led to recurring attack errors that kept Malaluan and Laput from killing the ball. But quick recovery and unwavering composure allowed the Lady Spikers to get the groove back as Gagate finally shut the doors to Bakanke’s power hit, and Maicah Larroza tallied her first point of the game through a block-breaking attack heading into the final technical timeout, 16-12.

Unforced errors from both squads decorated the scoreboard, but the pesky Lady Tamaraws were able to eke out more capitalizations as they turned it into an alarming two-point game, pushing La Salle to call for a timeout, 20-18. Despite another 1-2 stunner from Coronel, the Morayta-based squad continued to spike pressure upon the Spikers as another Bakanke power hit through the Taft towers cued another timeout for DLSU, 22-21. However, the Lady Spikers displayed the grits of true champions as Laput finally struck a successful crosscourt attempt, and Canino put the ball back in after an over-reception from the side of the Tamaraws to trigger the final whistle and keep La Salle undefeated, 25-22.

Player of the Game De Leon shared her sentiments regarding her star-studded defensive performance in today’s matchup against the Lady Tamaraws: “Thankful na nabi-build ko na ‘yung confidence at character ko, pero ‘di pa po ako satisfied on how I performed today po kasi andami pa pong lapses.” She explained that there is still a lot to work and improve on as an individual and entire team as they strive toward the championship title again. 

([I’m] thankful that I was able to build my confidence and character, but I am not yet satisfied with how I performed today because I still had a lot of lapses.) 

The DLSU Lady Spikers aim to stay in the winning column by taking down the gutsy UST Golden Tigresses as they face them on Sunday, February 25, at 3 pm at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. 

The Scores:

DLSU 3 – Canino 13, Laput 10, Gagate 8, Malaluan 7, Coronel 3, Provido 3, Soreño 2, Larroza 1, de Leon 0, Tolentino 0 

FEU 0 – Petallo 7, Bakanke 6, Tagaod 6, Petallo 6, J. Asis 6, Devosara 6, A. Asis 3, Panangin 2, Papa 1

Set Scores: 25-20, 25-17, 25-22

Tana Melgar

By Tana Melgar

John Rei Salanga

By John Rei Salanga

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