It was a much-anticipated rematch between the current queens of the UAAP elimination round and the defending champion. The 8-0 green and white quintet against the reeling volleybelles from Sampaloc.
Even if match #1 was just three days ago, La Salle wanted nothing less than a statement repeat win while National U sought redemption.
From the get-go, the match did not disappoint.
After a Jolina Dela Cruz backrow attack pushing the first frame into set point at 24-22, NU came growling back and knotted the count at 24. But the swag, the real Lady Spikers’ swag, was back. Fifi Sharma made a quick kill down the middle and Angel Canino fired a service ace to win the first set 26-24.
Slowly, the fight of National U started to fade.
National U’s Mica Belen found herself as the lone ranger fighting a protracted battle and was able to push her flagging Lady Bulldogs in the second set and tied the count at 24-all anew. But just like the first set, Canino fired one from the wings off the block and the Lady Bulldogs succumbed to pressure with an ugly attack set.
La Salle took set#2 at 26-24 but more than the set snuffed out any fight from their opponents.
By the start of the third set, the usually dominant NU was already a shell of their championship selves. The Lady Spikers led by Thea Gagate lording the middle and Dela Cruz and Canino bombing from the wings zoomed to an early 9-4 lead.
The Taft spikers were far from done.
Sharma continued the initial salvo with her personal two-point swing with an attack point and a service ace and just saw NU melt on the other side of the net. From a 10-5, La Salle raced ahead to 16-8 which pushed the match beyond the reach of the paws of the whimpering National U Lady Bulldogs.
La Salle retains elite status with an 8-0 card while the Lady Bulldogs limped home with a 5-3 slate and with it a great welcome-back gift to Coach Ramil De Jesus.
Canino was red-hot during the match and finished with 13 points while Player of the Game Jolina Dela Cruz contributed 8 points with 3 blocks.
For National U, it was a game plan that went south. With a plan to relentlessly attack, the Sampaloc team made 26 errors from attacks and erratic reception.
The Lady Spikers will face FEU in the next match on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at the Mall of Asia Arena shooting for their 9th straight win.
ANIMO LA SALLE!!!