We have heard this all before. A win is a win regardless of form.
The DLSU Lady Spikers needed all the points of all those five sets to outlast the very stubborn, not-going-away UST Golden Tigresses to the tune of 25-20, 16-25, 25-8, 15-25 and16-14, last Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Missing two major pieces, Coach Ramil De Jesus and Alleiah Malaluan, Sunday’s thriller was literally a match of your-set-my-set with the two squads trading haymakers but not having the power to knock the other one out.
During the twilight of the final set, a service error by UST’s Milena Alessandrini and an overcooked attack by Ejiya Laure broke an erstwhile 14-14 deadlock into a 16-14 set and match victory for the Lady Spikers.
Early game jitters plagued La Salle with UST pulling away 2-14 off poor reception and bad coordination on defense. By the turn of the second technical time-out, the Lady Spikers trailed 10-16 and had as many points as errors.
Rising from the depths just in time, the Lady Spikers rallied behind excellent plays on the wings by Jolina dela Cruz and Angel Canino, together with Leila Cruz and Thea Gagate’s middle game, the spikers from Taft trimmed the gap and took the lead 21-19 behind the crowd that found a reason to cheer.
And just like that and despite the 12 errors, La Salle seized the first set 25-20 backstopped by 14 attack points vs. only five from UST.
After UST took the second set, the real DLSU Lady Spikers showed up and blanked the Golden Tigresses 8-0 at the start of the third. With three attack points, one service ace, and a block point, the La Salle green spiking machine was humming ending the second technical time-out with a 16-6 edge. With UST’s star player Laure hitting the bench, the Lady Spikers cruised to an easy 25-8 third-set win.
But the Tigresses were not done just yet.
UST came back in the 4th set even in the face of an efficient set by the Lady Spikers. The aggressive net playing Tigresses along punished the poor floor defense by smashing and dropping balls on their way to a 5-10 lead. Interim coach Noel Orcullo extended his rotation to Amie Provido, Julia Coronel, and Baby Jynne Soreno hoping for a “magic bunot”.
This time, there was no magic in the “bunot” and UST equalized the game at 2-2 by winning the fourth 15-25.
Like the entire match, the final set was highlighted by the swapping of streaks. La Salle took the lead at 5-1 before UST turned the tables and tied it at 6-6. With both squads operating at maximum energy and the crowd from Taft and Espana into it, La Salle and UST went toe-to-toe with the score tied at 13-all after Jolina dela Cruz’s attack that paved the way for the final plays of the match where UST wilted under intense pressure to give La Salle win number 1 of Season 85.
Super rookie Angel Canino topped the Taft squad with 18 points, 16 came from aggressive attacks down the vulnerable UST floor defense.
Despite the thrilling victory, the match did raise more questions since UST was not considered this season’s title favorite.
- Are we strong enough to beat National U?
- Is this team built for a championship run?
- Can the team survive without Coach Ramil?
- Can they control their errors?
As Player of the Game Angel Canino said, “we have a lot of jelling to do”, and the Lady Spikers nation can only hope that the jelling comes sooner than later.
These questions and more will be answered as the DLSU Lady Spikers continue their Season 85 quest with game two of the regular season against UP Lady Fighting Maroons at 4pm at the Mall of Asia Arena.
ANIMO LA SALLE