UAAP: DLSU Lady Spikers suffer a nostalgic loss by UST Golden Tigresses after a five-set thriller

The DLSU Lady Spikers failed to hold onto their winning streak in the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Volleyball Tournament after losing to the UST Golden Tigresses in five sets, 25-18, 25-23, 14-25, 16-25, 15-12, earlier today, February 25, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. 

Taking charge of the match for the Lady Spikers was UAAP Season 85 Rookie-MVP Angel Canino, who had 28 big points and 18 excellent digs. Middle blockers Thea Gagate and Amie Provido also contributed to the Lady Spikers’ scoring with 11 points each. Echoing their teammates’ performance, Alleiah Malaluan and Baby Jyne Soreño posted double digits with 10 points each. 

Jonna Perdido proved her capabilities for the UST Golden Tigresses as she bagged the Player of the Game award with 24 points and five excellent receptions. Angeline Poyos and Mary Banagua followed closely, with 22 points and 11 markers, respectively.

First set jitters

Malaluan won the match’s first point but was quickly traded off with a service error by Team Captain Julia Coronel, which tied the match at 1-all. However, the team from España also had their fair share of service errors that brought the game to another equalizer at 4-all. Tension could be felt throughout the arena as both teams, who were battling undefeated, were hungry to win. Canino made the Lasallian crowd go wild with her sharp crosscourt attack from the net, giving DLSU a one-point lead, 6-5.

Definitely feeling the first set jitters, the Green-and-White tried their best to keep the ball afloat, a block by Thea Gagate and Malaluan gave movement to the Lady Spikers’ scoreboard, 9-8. The first half of the set was composed of close digits and unforced errors, specifically net touches made by those in the frontline. After a team huddle, the team from Taft seemingly went back to the court shakily, with block and net touches here and there. 

The latter half of the opening set was composed of miscommunications and shaky floor defenses from La Salle as UST seemingly read through their plays, earning points by aiming for empty middles—surpassing the Taft defense. Still, Canino found a way for an attack that cut down the lead to five, 23-18. The first set of the match ended with the Lady Spikers at a disadvantage with their redundant unforced errors, 25-18. 

A close affair

Determined to bounce back from dropping the first set, the DLSU Lady Spikers wasted no time in scoring with the help of Laput’s attack, 1-all. The Taft-based squad banked on their reliable scorers, Canino and Laput, to chip in points for the team, 3-2. With UST unable to return the ball and La Salle with a two-point lead, the Tigresses were compelled to call timeout. Canino scored a point and showcased her attacking prowess with a mighty crosscourt attack, 5-3. Golden Tigress Jurado challenged the tall La Salle blockers and an error from the team tied the match at 5-all. With both teams exchanging points in the close match, Provido’s service error tied the game for the third time, 7-all. Malaluan’s smart attack off the blockers’ arm finally broke the deadlock to bring La Salle ahead just in time for the first technical timeout, 8-7. 

With both teams refusing to back down, Soreño was subbed in and presence was immediately made known as she instantly scored a point off the block, 14-12. Coming off the break, the Lady Spikers gained a comfortable three-point lead after back-to-back errors and a powerful block by Gagate, 19-16. The España-based team refused to give up and answered with back-to-back points, La Salle called time out to stop the bleeding, 20-18. After UST started to gain confidence in targeting the arms of the blockers of La Salle, they eventually closed the set, 25-23. DLSU suffered from seven unforced errors in the second set in comparison to UST’s three. 

The Champions’ redemption

After dropping the first two sets, the reigning UAAP Champions sharpened their arrows to deny a sweep by the Golden Tigresses. DLSU came out of the huddle as a different team, with Provido and Soreño, who were freshly welcomed into the court, sparking the attempt at a comeback. The team from Taft maintained their momentum and began showing the Mall of Asia Arena what champions are made of.

From behind the net, Gagate brought the Lady Spikers’ ahead by six points with a cutting attack, 7-1. Canino complemented the middle hitter’s efforts as she scored straight points herself with powerful blocks and attacks to extend the lead, 12-6. With the set under Green-and-White control, a Provido service ace was the cherry on top to raise the digits for La Salle. Tolentino added to the offensive rally as well with her drop balls. The set was composed of the bench players ushering in numbers to the delight of the Lasallian hopeful. 

Steadily picking up the pace, a Gagate service ace was at play, 21-12. The sea of yellow and green cheered for their beloved teams, the Lasallian crowd was brought back to life after facing a potential sweep. The latter part of the third set was an Angel Canino rampage, scoring four consecutive markers for the Lady Spikers. At this point, the Team from Taft seemingly learned from their mistakes early on, persevering into a fourth set, 25-14.

Never backing down

The Lady Spikers fearlessly entered the set, hoping to extend the match. Tolentino began the play with a service ace to set the tone right for the team, which was quickly followed by a powerful attack from Soreño, 2-0. The defending champions continued to pick up the pace with a remarkable ace by Malaluan, 4-1. After an error from her, both teams gallantly exchanged points, followed by an error from UST’s side that gave La Salle a two-point advantage, 6-4. An unenforced net touch by the Lady Spikers and a crosscourt attack from the Golden Tigresses tied the match at 6-all. The gutsy La Salle team continued to score from all sides of the court, 8-7, UST trails by one. 

With a lot at stake for the fourth set, La Salle unflinchingly showcased their blocking abilities, challenging UST’s scorers, 10-8. The Lady Spikers persistently proved why they are the defending champions with an astounding 5-0 run to get their biggest lead in the match, 15-9. La Salle still failed to minimize their errors, with UST inching closer thanks to the Taft-based squad’s unforced errors, 16-12. The Lady Spikers asserted their dominance over the Golden Tigresses after serving numerous contributions and a variation of attacks. The Green-and-White entered the 20-point mark with Canino’s powerful crosscourt attack, causing UST to call a timeout as they led by six, 20-14. In a remarkable turn of events, the Lady Spikers vigorously fought hard to force a fifth set, 22-14. A block by Canino, a down-the-line attack from Malaluan, and an outside attack from UST officially sealed the deal to open the gates of the Lady Spikers’ first fifth-set matchup of the season, 25-16. 

A heartbreaking decider

The final set was kickstarted with the first three points from DLSU, with attack errors and challenges at play. The side of the Golden Tigresses initiated a block touch challenge, which was deemed successful. However, the Lady Spikers did not back down and tried their luck at a challenge; this time, they questioned if the ball was hit inside. To the surprise of the arena, it turned successfully in favor of DLSU. Showing fighting spirit, Canino showcased her prowess by earning five points for her team and a satisfying service ace, making the crowd go wild, 10-8. The Green-and-White desperately tried to keep the ball in the air and maintain the built momentum that they had gained from winning two straight sets. 

A few points away from finishing the deciding set, with more than 12,000 people in attendance, the air of the SM Mall of Asia Arena was echoing with chants from both green and yellow sides. Late into the set, it was not looking too good for the Lady Spikers as their numbers failed to rise in the scoreboards, as the Tigresses caught up and ultimately overtook the Lady Spikers. With faulty floor defense and ball reception, La Salle stumbled by three consecutive points from UST, who handed them their first loss of the season, 15-12, reminiscent of the Green-and-White’s only loss in the previous season. 

The DLSU Lady Spikers aim to bounce back from this eye-opening loss as they face long-time rivals, the ADMU Blue Eagles, on Saturday, March 2, at 4 pm at the same venue. 

The Scores:

DLSU 2 – Canino 28, Provido 11, Gagate 11, Soreño 10, Malauan 10, Tolentino 8, Laput 6, Larroza 0, Coronel 0

UST 3 – Perdido 24, Poyos 22, Banagua 11, Jurado 7, Caraballo 2, Penafiel 0, Caasi 0, Gula 0, Abbu 0, Abellana 0

Set Scores: 25-18, 25-23, 14-25, 16-25, 15-12

Jamie Alberto

By Jamie Alberto

Samantha Vidal

By Samantha Vidal

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