By Neal Tieng
Different year, same result.
The DLSU Lady Spikers overcame a jittery first set and went on fashion out a 4-set romp over the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 22-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-20 this afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The long hiatus told on the young Lady Spikers, who had lost all their veterans to graduation, and whose most senior players had played just one year of collegiate competition. The youth and lack of experience told on the team, leading to a jittery start and numerous unforced errors.
Out of sync and out of character, the Lady Spikers seemed to be melting at the start under the bright lights in Season 84’s first game against our bitter rivals. After yielding the first set, the girls from Taft seemed ready to surrender the next one with the score pegged at 18-21.
And the volleyball Yoda knew when to regroup his troops. Multi-titled coach Ramil de Jesus called for a time-out and the green and white was never looked back. La Salle went on a 5-1 tear behind “veteran” Jolina dela Cruz and rookies Thea Gagante and Baby Jyne Soreno to snatch the lead 23-22. When the Lady Eagles threatened one last time, Soreno’s soft tip and Alleiah Malaluan’s kill closed the set at 25-23.
On the other side, the persistent first ball problems of the Blue Eagles still came back to plague them after all this time. Blue Eagle veteran libero and team captain Ravena was outplayed by her rookie counterpart Jazareno in the major libero stats: digs (Ravena 23 excellent digs, Jazareno 25), reception (Ravena 11, Jazareno 15). Unable to receive the ball well, the Ateneo offense could not set up effectively all game long.
After the sets were tied at 1-all, the momentum shifted from Katipunan to Taft.
La Salle went into the third set with their familiar Lady Spiker swag and turned a 7-9 score into 19-12 lead. It seemed like déjà vu – the Ateneo Blue Eagles had seen this exact scenario before in S82, and the result was the same.
Mars Alba and Mereophe Sharma defended the net tenaciously contested every attempt of Ateneo’s Faith Nisperos and Vanny Gandler. The green floor defense also kicked in, preventing the Ateneo attacks from hitting the floor. Jolina Dela Cruz finished the Ateneans off with a cross-court kill to close out the set 25-18.
While the Ateneans tried their version of a “fight”, the Lady Spikers reminded them in those final two sets who are the real masters of the volleyball court. La Salle raced out of the huddle for the final set and built a 12-8 lead. The more relaxed Mars Alba started to set smoothly and quickly and dishing to Gagate, Malaluan and Soreno for the quick kills.
Although Ateneo took advantage when Coach Ramil extended his rotation in the middle of the fourth set, Malaluan subbed back in and took care of the Lady Eagles with a kill and a service ace to chalk up with #1 for the Lady Spikers.
Baby Jyne Soreno was named Player of the Game with her 17 from 13 attacks, 3 blocks, and an ace while Malaluan added 13 attacks and 2 service aces. Ylizieth Jazareno showed shades of that legendary Dawn Macandilli floor defense to lead the Lady Spikers with 25 digs.
La Salle will face Adamson Lady Falcons on Saturday at 12noon at the Mall of Asia Arena.
ANIMO LA SALLE!!!