UAAP: Lady Spikers survive scare from Fighting Maroons in four sets

The DLSU Lady Spikers earned their sixth-straight win after outlasting the gritty UP Fighting Maroons in an intense bout, 26-24, 25-19, 24-26, 27-25, earlier today, April 4, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Opposite spiker Shevana Laput led the team to victory as she bagged the Player of the Game accolade with 21 points from 18 attacks, two blocks, and a service ace. Also in double digits for the Lady Spikers were Alleiah Malaluan and Maicah Larroza, with 17 points and 12 points, respectively. 

After a hard-fought match, the last-seeded UP Fighting Maroons gave the Lady Spikers a run for their money, with four players ending in double figures. Leading the scoreboard was Irah Jaboneta with 18 points, Stephanie Bustrillo with 16, and Joan Monares and Niña Ytang with 10 points each.

Too close for comfort

With UAAP Season 85 Rookie-MVP Angel Canino sitting out the game, the new set of DLSU starters had trouble adjusting to the irregularity, falling behind early in the set after back-to-back points from Bustrillo, 5-3. The green shirts continued to trail 8-5 coming out of the set’s first technical timeout due to their self-inflicted errors, but Malaluan promptly stepped up by dishing out a variety of attacks, which sparked a 5-1 run for the Taft-based squad that put them in the lead, 10-9.

The Fighting Maroons, however, proved that they could quickly climb out of a hole as a flurry of attacks from Jaboneta and Kryzten Cabasac flipped a 16-13 disadvantage into a timely 18-17 edge for the Diliman hitters. Despite La Salle’s error-plagued performance, crucial attacks from Larroza, followed by a Coronel ace, handed their side a two-point buffer, 21-19. After a Jyne Soreño finish on a combination play earned a set point for the Green-and-White, the Fighting Maroons refused to back down, serving back-to-back points to force a deuce, 24-all. Unwilling to slip in crunch time, Team Captain Julia Coronel pumped up her teammates by slotting in a surprise dump ball, later opening up the opportunity for Laput to secure the set win, 26-24. 

Attack on all sides

Mirroring their first set outing, the next set saw a close match with both teams exchanging points early on; the nip-and-tuck affair continued with key contributions from sophomores Amie Provido and Laput, 5-all. The Lady Spikers continued to power through the unorganized plays and capitalized on the Fighting Maroons’ errors as Thea Gagate ended the long from the middle, 10-7. With both teams having their fair share of errors, Larroza’s explosive attack gave La Salle a two-point advantage for the second technical timeout, 16-14. 

Determined to widen the gap, Malaluan and Soreño displayed a variation of crosscourt and down-the-line attacks, leading the Lady Spikers to the 20th-point mark, 20-16. The Taft-based squad continued to showcase their abilities with the help of La Salle blockers’ impenetrable arms aiding the team to a 5-0 run, 24-16. With the ladies in green at set point, an attack by Jaboneta propelled a mini 3-0 run for the Fighting Maroons, delaying DLSU’s set-point advantage, 24-19. Eager to close off the set, a powerful crosscourt attack was launched care of Sorreño, ending the set with a six-point cushion, 25-19.

Fumbling the bag

Compared to the first two sets, the Lady Spikers zoomed to an early advantage that was fueled by Laput’s off-the-block hits and several miscues from the Fighting Maroons, forcing UP Head Coach Oliver Almadro to call a timeout, 6-1. The onslaught on the Diliman defense continued as a bevy of crosscourt hits and Provido’s quick attacks pushed the lead further to 14-5. With Lilay Del Castillo and Gillianna Torres getting subbed in to see action on the floor, DLSU pronounced that they were firmly in the driver’s seat, which was accelerated by a Malaluan ace that ballooned the gap to 10 points, 17-7. 

A series of errors from the ladies in white etched the score at 22-15, solidifying La Salle’s shot at ending the match. After a UP timeout that was supposed to be a last-ditch tactic from the squad, the Fighting Maroons were given a lifeline by the Green-and-White, who grew lax and gave up errors that paved the way for a Diliman comeback. Following an attack error from Laput, an earlier comfortable seven-point advantage suddenly became a deadlock at 24-all. With blazing momentum on their side, the Fighting Maroons stole the set win off an attack from Monares and a sloppy reception by Laput, 26-24. 

Turning the tide

Entering the third set of the match with high spirits, the UP Fighting Maroons wasted no time establishing their footing with a 3-0 run against the Lady Spikers. The Lady Spikers struggled to catch up to the Fighting Maroons, with Bustrillo leading the charge, 7-3. The Fighting Maroons challenged the Lady Spikers’ floor defense, but Provido and Laput chipped in points to minimize UP’s lead to one, 13-12.

After going head-to-head for a few rallies, the Taft-based squad successfully caught up to the Fighting Maroons, 18-all. Due to her team being rattled toward the end of the set, Malaluan’s maturity as a junior shined through as she successfully saved La Salle from a match point by the Fighting Maroons, forcing a deuce, 24-all. The ladies in green braved the storm, and Malaluan and Larroza proved to be the spark plug they needed. The match ended in favor of the DLSU Lady Spikers as they successfully turned the set to their side with a statement block by Team Captain Coronel, 27-25.

Speaking on the team’s messy victory, Assistant Coach Noel Orcullo shared how although the team was affected by Canino’s absence, the rest of the players were advised to step up and fight. “Siguro nabigla lang kami. Hindi inaasahan kasi na wala si Angel, pero sinabihan naman namin sila na ready lang, maging ready lang.” 

(I guess we were shocked. We weren’t expecting Angel not to be here, but we told them that they should be ready, just be ready.) 

In relation to Canino’s unavailability, Coach Orcullo stated the reason for her absence saying, “Nagkaroon lang ng accident—cut si Angel sa arm[s] niya, so day by day, mino-monitor naman siya. Hindi namin alam kung ano yung [ano] ng doktor o kung hanggang kailan.” 

(There was an accident—Angel got a cut on her arm, so day by day, we are monitoring her situation. We don’t know what the doctor’s diagnosis is and when this will last.)

Looking to improve their performance in today’s match, the Lady Spikers will be further tested in their bid for a top-two spot by the UE Lady Warriors on April 9, at 4 pm at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

The Scores:

DLSU 3 – Laput 21, Malaluan 17, Larroza 12, Provido 8, Soreño 8, Gagate 7, Coronel 5, Del Castillo 1, Torres 0

UP 1 – Jaboneta 18, Bustrillo 16, Monares 10, Ytang 10, Magsombol 4, Celis 3, Cabasac 2, De Guia 0, Encarnacion 0, Goc 0, Gould 0

Set Scores: 26-24, 25-19, 24-26, 27-25

Jaden Alberto

By Jaden Alberto

Samantha Vidal

By Samantha Vidal

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