It was supposed to be a rivalry game. A heated one. A match that would embody “matalo na lahat, wag lang sa ______________”. A game that would throw all stats out of the window and flush all the odds down the drain because this will be an emotionally-charged rivalry game.
And of all the anticipation of the match, only one came through and true – the DLSU Lady Spikers showed their might against the hapless Ateneo Blue Eagles in straight sets to sweep their season series once more to the tune of 25-22, 25-19, 25-18 last Sunday at the MOA Arena.
Despite the close score, every set was never in doubt.
The first set rolled with the Blue Eagles holding on to slim leads going to the first two technical time-outs. Then it was time to get serious. La Salle shifted to another gear and overhauled a 16-18 deficit into a 24-21 set-point advantage.
The engineer of the 8-3 run? Baby Jyne Soreno and the bench mob. Two drops by Soreno down the huge hole in the Ateneo defense ignited the finishing run and pushed La Salle into set-point.
Soreno smashed one from the corner through two blue blockers at set point to clinch set #1 at 25-22.
La Salle was the more aggressive team in the first frame, outscoring Ateneo 19-12 on attacks alone and winning the set despite the self-destructing 7 errors.
But that was how it looked all game. The match will feel tight, but with confidence that game won’t slip away. It was an air of confidence that the DLSU Lady Spikers could always flip the switch and tear Ateneo apart.
Just like that, La Salle went on an early rampage at the start of the second set 5-2 and continued to blitz the Eagles 17-11. The frontline of Shevana Laput, Thea Gagate and Jolina Dela Cruz relentlessly bombed the scrambling Ateneo floor defense while the net defense of Angel Canino, Laput and Gagate shut down the best offense the Katipunan squad could deploy.
With the score at 20-17, it was time for another run.
Laput combined with Dela Cruz on block kills while Ateneo’s Faith Nisperos struggled against the outstretched hands of Gagate and Dela Cruz to push La Salle to within set-point 24-19. Laput then finished the Eagles off with a floater to snatch set #2.
Everyone in the green-dominated MOA Arena was anticipating the final set to be a do-or-die, win-or-die-trying attitude from Ateneo.
But it was the exact opposite.
La Salle’s killer instinct powered the team to an 8-7 third set lead and at the turn of the first technical time-out, everyone was expecting their crosstown rival’s faith to show up and give some semblance of a resistance. But instead of a fight, Ateneo coach Oliver Almandro chose flight and emptied the bench and gave the second-stringers some rivalry experience.
With bench vs bench, La Salle finished the match off 25-19 and with the victory, maintained the #1 position in the standings with a 12-1 card.
Shevana Laput got Player of the Game honors with 16 points while Canino finished the game with 13. But the more encouraging stat is that the trust given to the Laput with 25% of attack attempts coming from this super rookie.
As a team, La Salle played like La Salle and ruled the net with a 10-2 block advantage over the blue squad.
The DLSU Lady Spikers will wind up the elimination round with a match against winless UE Lady Warriors on Saturday, April 29, 2023, at the FilOil EcoOil Center in San Juan at 3pm.
ANIMO LA SALLE!
ANIMO LADY SPIKERS!!!