UAAP: Green Spikers cruise past Growling Tigers in four sets, forcing a playoff for the second seed

The DLSU Green Spikers sustained their commanding finesse over the UST Growling Tigers after exacting a four-set siege, 25-20, 25-27, 25-20, 25-18, to tie for second in time for the homestretch of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Volleyball Tournament earlier tonight, April 27, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Team Captain JM Ronquillo solidified his campaign as one of the best opposite hitters of the league after notching 21 attack points to be honored as Player of the Game. Unsung heroes from Taft, Vince Maglinao and Noel Kampton, served as the Archers’ twin wings after marking double-digit performances of their own, with 19 and 18 points, respectively.

In their valiant losing effort, reigning Rookie-MVP Josh Ybañez continued to prove his moniker with the loudest roar after spearheading the UST Growling Tigers with 24 points, boosted by 15 markers from Rey De Vega and 12 contributions from Sherwin Umandal.

Asserting team dominance

An early deadlock was the theme for the start of the first set, with both teams’ top scorers chipping in points to keep the match close. The Green-and-White’s blocker, Nat Del Pilar, scored back-to-back attack points from the middle that tied DLSU with UST, 7-all. Despite great attempts to score, both teams were plagued by attack and service errors, but Ronquillo and Billie Anima managed to toy with UST’s floor defense, 15-10. 

The Tigers continuously made it difficult for DLSU as they used the hands of the Green-and-White blockers, minimizing the lead to three, 18-15. Maglinao’s hot hands ended the long rally with a crosscourt attack, giving La Salle a six-point advantage and the biggest lead in the set, 21-15. With everyone in the team contributing, a perfect receive from La Salle allowed a quick attack for middle blocker Anima, the Green Spikers now at set point, 24-20. An inefficient attack error by UST led DLSU to take the first set, 25-20.

Exhilarating extension

After a dominant first-set connection, the Green Spikers narrowly failed to sustain momentum after an inferior offensive showing in the second set. Maglinao delivered the first three markers for the Green Spikers’ seesaw exchange of points capped by a one-handed set conversion down to Zone Six. Both teams struggled at the service line after a hot potato of the possession to keep a consistent deadlock status. 

Rainier Flor exhibited timely executions for the Growling Tigers after rendering two straight blocks to give them a crucial gutter, 10-8. But, the Green Spikers refused to widen the gap as the offensive trifecta of Ronquillo, Kampton, and Maglinao kept the Taft-based squad at bay. Del Pilar’s consistent blocking prowess added the complementary touch for the Green Spikers to turn the tables and eventually reach set point, 24-23. However, the Ybañez efficiency paved the way for Umandal to surge stronger after a silent first-set performance as his critical block-shattering crosscourt bombs boosted De Vega’s set-ending crosscourt to neutralize the match, 27-25.

Stabilizing the offense

With the Green Spikers determined to bounce back from the unfortunate outcome of the second set, Kampton’s crosscourt attack marked the first point of the frame but was followed by a net touch error from La Salle, 1-all. A steady offense from both teams continued the back-and-forth affair, but a well-read block by Del Pilar was able to finally give the Green Spikers a one-point advantage, 7-6. 

The Green Spikers were troubled with shaky defense as the Growling Tigers gained a two-point advantage by Ybañez’s strategic targeting of La Salle’s usually reliable libero, 12-10. The Taft-based squad made up for their lackluster defense with strong attacks from Ronquillo, Kampton, and Maglinao, 18-16. Despite attempts to catch up by UST’s wing attackers, Ybañez and De Vega, the DLSU trifecta proved to be unstoppable as they unleashed a variation of attacks, giving La Salle a five-point cushion as they took over the third set, 25-20.

Spikers rushed, Tigers hushed

In the fourth set, the Green Spikers wanted to end things immediately, minimizing their errors and demonstrating a well-balanced offense-defense pairing to close the match decisively. After six deadlocks to start the set, the Green Spikers immediately dislodged a 5-1 run wrapped up by Ronquillo’s off-the-block hit to possess a comfortable four-point cushion, 11-7. Kampton also made his presence known after boosting a 3-0 run with a classic crosscourt hit and a deafening kill block to extend their lead to five and force UST to call for a timeout, 16-11.

The set’s second half saw the Growling Tigers attempting to dispatch its different cards as the bench produced meek points to keep them within dangerous territory. However, Kampton denied their foes the chance to catch up as he delivered the three last points the Green-and-White needed to reach match point, which Ybañez culminated after a long ball to conclusively keep La Salle within twice-to-beat contention, 25-18.

The La Salle captain is confident in their rising record as they are peaking at the right time, expressing, “Siguro yung momentum namin is good after yung loss namin against NU, na-sweep namin lahat ng games namin and hopefully, magawa namin ‘to hanggang dulo kasi naniniwala ako na yung laro namin paakyat hindi pababa.”

(Our momentum is good because, after our loss against NU, we were able to sweep the succeeding games. Hopefully, we can continue this streak until the end because I believe that our team’s trajectory is upward, not downward.)

Talking about the upcoming playoff match against NU, Ronquillo remains optimistic as the opportunity for a twice-to-beat advantage is still up for grabs. “Para sa akin, masaya na mayroon pa kaming opportunity na ma-grab and no regrets na lang talaga, laban na hanggang dulo,” he declared.

(We are happy that we still have the opportunity to gain the advantage, we have no regrets and will continue to fight until the end.)

With this win, the DLSU Green Spikers have solidified their footing as they approach the semifinals. The Taft-based squad will continue to polish their abilities as they anticipate the playoff and semifinal schedule from the UAAP.

The Scores:

DLSU 3 – Ronquillo 21, Maglinao 19, Kampton 18, Del Pilar 8, Anima 7, Adajar 0, De Castro 0, Guerrero 0, Poquita 0, Gloria 0

UST 1 – Ybanez 24, De Vega 15, Umandal 12, Colinares 5, Flor 4, Salvador 4, Avila 1, De La Noche 1, Yambao 1, Prudenciado V. 0, Valera 0

Set Scores: 25-20, 25-27, 25-20, 25-18

John Rei Salanga

By John Rei Salanga

Samantha Vidal

By Samantha Vidal

Leave a Reply