UAAP: Lady Spikers continue to struggle without Canino, survive Lady Warriors in five sets

The DLSU Lady Spikers had a difficult outing against the two-win UE Lady Warriors, needing five sets to come up with a victory, 25-23, 21-25, 25-17, 22-25, 15-12, earlier tonight, April 9, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Despite their recent struggles, the result brings La Salle’s record in the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Volleyball Tournament to 9-1 and puts them atop the standings.

The towering duo of Thea Gagate and Shevana Laput anchored the Green-and-White in the scoring department, each tallying 22 and 21 points, respectively. Of Gagate’s 22 points were 17 attacks, three kill-blocks, and two service aces, as the senior middle blocker picked up the Player of the Game accolade. Also tallying double-digits in the win were Alleiah Malaluan with 12, Amie Provido with 11, and Maicah Larroza with 10.

For the side from Recto, the pair of KC Cepada and Casiey Dongallo led the valiant underdog effort with 23 and 20 points, respectively.

Turning the tide

Coming into the game as heavy favorites, the Lady Spikers quickly established their control of the game with a 6-2 advantage from consecutive attacks. However, the defending champions were overwhelmed by a furious 9-1 run by the Lady Warriors led by Dongallo, who had seven points in the set, including three consecutive service aces in the said run. La Salle made uncharacteristic setting and reception errors, giving the Lady Warriors free points. 

The period continued on this trend until the Lady Spikers came storming back with a fiery 8-0 blast to snatch back the lead at 22-21. The run was powered by excellent service from Provido and numerous quick attack plays by Gagate. Errors from the opposition also started to pile up, further pushing the momentum to the side of the Green-and-White. Laput, who had a team-high six points in the set, capped off the comeback with a kill down the line to give La Salle a 25-23 first-set win.

Seesaw second set

After clawing their way back to take the opening set, La Salle found themselves playing catch-up again in the second set. Several deadlocks ensued before consecutive attacks from Jyne Soreño and Gagate finally managed to put DLSU ahead, 9-8, but the squad from Taft could not pull away. The Lady Warriors snatched the lead again at 12-11 after an offensive miscue saw the Lady Spikers drop the ball on their side of the court. The game continued to be a back-and-forth affair, with La Salle constantly falling behind by one and equalizing with their adversaries from Recto until the second technical timeout, 16-15.

It was UE’s Cepada who managed to create some separation in the set, igniting her side to a 3-0 run following the break, 19-16. In reply, a point off-the-bench by Larroza was followed by a Gagate first-touch hit and a Lady Warriors error to tie the game once again, 21-all. Despite these signs of life, DLSU was unable to hold on. Anticlimactically, the Green-and-White tallied back-to-back errors, prompting Head Coach Ramil De Jesus to call for time, 23-21. Despite the timeout, his team was unable to regroup in the second frame, allowing two straight service aces to give UE their first set win.

Getting back then stopped on track

The start of the third set quickly proved to be much like the second as both sides traded attacks and errors, keeping the period close at 8-6. The Lady Spikers started to pull away due to the increasing number of mistakes by the Lady Warriors. 

Led by Taft Towers Gagate and Malaluan, who had five and four markers, respectively, in the period, the Taft-based squad exploited the opposition’s receiving woes with quick attack plays and down-the-line kills, to open up a 17-10 advantage. Cepada attempted to keep her side in the game with six points in the set. However, the Green-and-White continuously found the gaps in UE’s defensive shape with quick spikes and tips. The Lady Spikers never led by less than six points for the rest of the period as La Salle cruised to a 25-17 third-set victory.

DLSU struck first in the fourth but fell behind at the first technical timeout, 8-5. Larroza continued to carry the offensive load for the Lady Spikers, building off her hot start in the frame and equalizing the match at 8-all. From that point onward, UE began to run away with the advantage. La Salle had an uninspiring effort as the eventual tying set went on, falling behind due to miscommunication and a dropball, 22-16. The Lady Spikers tried to dig in deep after a rotational error by UE saw the set continue, 24-21. The team from Taft hoped to prevent the game from reaching a decisive fifth set, but it was too little, too late as the Lady Warriors continued their underdog comeback, 25-22.

Digging deep

After being pushed to the brink of an unexpected defeat, La Salle responded immediately in the deciding set and built up a 7-2 lead, pushed by two kills each from Gagate and Laput. However, the resilient Lady Warriors once again chipped away at the deficit with four unanswered scores, 7-6, taking advantage of key attack errors from the Lady Spikers. 

Holding a 10-9 advantage and with the game at its most crucial moment, Laput responded for the Green-and-White with three consecutive points off two blocks and a kill to put La Salle at match point, 14-9. The Lady Warriors did not fold and saved three straight match points to put the pressure on the defending champions again. But Gagate finally sealed the deal with a quick attack swipe, which was tipped out of bounds to give the Lady Spikers a 15-12 victory in the final set and a 3-2 triumph despite struggling during the match.

DLSU Assistant Coach Noel Orcullo expressed his disappointment with the performance of the team despite the victory. He explained, “Bad win ito para sa amin. Although panalo [kami], hindi maganda para sa amin. Hopefully, ‘wag na maulit [at] maging lesson [para sa kanila]. A win’s a win pero dapat ilagay nila sa isip nila na hindi dapat nangyayari ang ganun.

(It was a bad win for us. Although we won, it was not good for us. Hopefully, it will not happen again and become a lesson for them. A win’s a win, but they should put it in their minds that something like that should not happen.)

The DLSU Lady Spikers will look to improve on their shaky performance and maintain their unbeaten second-round run when they face the third-seeded NU Lady Bulldogs in a heated UAAP Season 85 Finals rematch on Sunday, April 14, at 4 pm at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:

DLSU 3 – Gagate 22, Laput 21, Malaluan 12, Provido 11, Larroza 10, Soreño 4, Coronel 3

UE 2 – Cepada 23, Dongallo 20, Nogales 9, Balingit 8, Castillo 7, Madriaga 3, Nierva 1
Set Scores: 25-23, 21-25, 25-17, 22-25, 15-12

Diego Manzano

By Diego Manzano

Aren Reyes

By Aren Reyes

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