No drop balls too low to dive for.
No attacks too far to chase.
No leads too big to overhaul.
No adversary too tough to beat.
The DLSU Lady Spikers advance to the UAAP Season 85 finals by beating, out-hustling, and outplaying the UST Golden Tigresses 26-24, 25-22, 20-25, 25-19 just this afternoon at the Big Dome.
Leading 2-1, the Lady Spikers rebounded from the previous set loss with a decisive drive at the start and blasted the set wide open leading 14-7. Alleiah Malaluan reminded everyone how special of a spiker she was in Season 84 when she ripped through the UST net defense with power and precision to build an early 11-5 lead collaborating with the middle assassin, Thea Gagate.
From the 16-12 mark, super rookie Angel Canino and Fifi Sharma banded together for a 5-1 blitz to push La Salle closer to the win at 21-13. Malaluan did not relent and fired another rocket down the UST defense to boost the Lady Spikers to 23-16, coming within two points of that slot in the finals.
After a mini-run by UST, Malaluan launched another killer to push the set to match point and Gagate and Shevana Laput blocked UST’s Melina Alessandrini’s moonshot and clinched the game for the DLSU Lady Spikers at 25-19.
But it was not only Malaluan who came to play Animo volleyball. Every Lady Spiker clad in green who marched into the fray was ready to fight. Everyone had a chip on their shoulder wanting revenge for that second-round loss and to prove they belonged in the title conversation, that they deserved their elite 13-1 standing.
From the daredevil dives of Justin Jazareno to the “buwis-buhay” chase of a wayward receptions, the Lady Spikers came with an underdog mentality to deliver the killing blow to UST.
The Lady Spikers got into a rock fight in the first set with UST hanging within the two-point radius. With the score locked at 21-all, Canino went on a personal two-point romp and Laput’s service ace pushed La Salle to set-point at 24-22.
But these Tigresses still had some fight in them at this juncture. UST growled back to tie the score at 24-all and almost reached set point until an out-of-bounds call was overturned by the coach’s challenge to give La Salle the lead at 25-24. On the ensuing play, Fifi Sharma closed the set with a kill block and gave the Lady Spikers a fiery start at 1-0.
The second set was no different. The Lady Spikers would swap runs with UST.
It was only at the 20-19 point of the set with La Salle holding on to a slim lead when one of the key and defining moments of the match unfolded.
After an errant reception, Jazareno chased a ball about to go out and inches from touching the floor. Jazareno went for the body-sacrificing save and kept the ball in play. After that suicidal save, Laput smashed this through UST defenders to push La Salle to a 21-19 lead.
Jazareno did not just save the ball, it showed grit. It shouted on the megaphone that the Lady Spikers came to fight today. And with every growl by the Tigresses, the Lady Spikers yelled back louder.
With the momentum created by that Jazareno dive, Canino, Jolina dela Cruz and Gagate combined for a 4-0 attack and took set #2, 25-22.
UST stormed back and took the third, 20-25. But for the Espana squad to win that set, it required all their energy to repel the comeback efforts of the Lady Spikers who rallied from the huge deficit and got a puncher’s chance of stealing the set. With the tireless rally engineered by Jynne Sorreno, fighting off the second-line Lady Spikers took a toll on UST.
And as the fourth set began, the Taft squad inserted back the starters revved up to another gear. A gear that UST no longer has.
Malaluan and Gagate opened the set attacking and spiking, propelling the greens to an 11-5 lead. At this point, it was a matter of time before the Taft squad was going back to the finals. While the Lady Spikers looked like they can play 20 more sets, UST looked like they have lost their soul.
Justin Jazareno was named Player of the Game by playing phenomenal floor defense with 22 digs and 16 excellent receptions. Canino led all Lady Spikers with 19 points, Dela Cruz had 10, while Malaluan and Gagate both finished with 10 points.
We are back in the finals and it seems like this edition of the DLSU Lady Spikers have just begun.
ANIMO LA SALLE!
ANIMO LADY SPIKERS!!!