MOA Arena (Pasay City) – In a jaw-dropping turn of events, La Salle’s remarkable redemption season reached its pinnacle with a miraculous comeback against the defending champions, NU Lady Bulldogs. Overcoming a seemingly insurmountable two-set deficit, the Lady Spikers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, dethroning their opponents with an astounding 19-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17, 15-10 triumph that will forever be etched in the annals of UAAP volleyball history.
The spirit of “kaya pa yan” echoed through the minds of the Lady Spikers as they faced the disintegration of their Game Two aspirations. But fueled by unyielding determination, the core of La Salle’s team refused to go down, orchestrating a spectacular turnaround that elevated them from the depths of despair to the throne of victory.
Amidst the tense contest, with the set locked at 13-all, the Lady Spikers defied all odds. Led by the fiery Fifi Sharma, accompanied by Angel Canino, Shevana Laput, and the magical presence of Maicah Larroza, La Salle unleashed a monumental 10-1 run that propelled them to a commanding 23-14 lead, igniting the crowd’s passion and setting the stage for a stunning comeback. NU’s attack errors sealed their fate, surrendering the set 25-15, granting La Salle a glimmer of hope.
With the scent of vulnerability permeating the NU starters, the green spikers seized the opportunity to pounce in the fourth set. Holding a narrow 10-8 lead, Thea Gagate, a force to be reckoned with in the middle, swiftly added two crucial points, while Sharma delivered two decisive middle kills that sent NU spiraling downward, paving the way for La Salle’s commanding 20-12 advantage.
Gagate’s well-placed shots exploited the defensive gaps of the scrambling Bulldogs, and Canino, with her fifth service ace of the game, propelled La Salle to set point. With NU visibly shaken, Alleiah Malaluan executed a brilliant two-hand push shot, dropping the ball amidst the chaotic Bulldogs, securing the set 25-17 and leveling the game at 2-2.
The air was charged with anticipation as La Salle, having conquered two consecutive sets, had the Lady Bulldogs on the ropes. Gagate and Laput showcased their defensive prowess, effectively repelling Bella Belen’s attacks and establishing an early 5-1 lead. Although NU managed to stage a brief comeback to equalize at 7-all, their energy appeared depleted. Canino’s sixth service ace, combined with Marionne Alba’s contributions, and the formidable Gagate-Laput partnership at the net further demoralized Belen with their deflections.
The defining moment arrived, shimmering like a championship trophy within reach. Following a jump serve from NU’s Princess Robles, Gagate executed her signature middle quick cross kill, clinching La Salle’s monumental 12th UAAP Volleyball title.
This remarkable triumph was the result of an extraordinary collective effort by the entire team. Canino led the charge with an impressive 19 points, while Gagate contributed 17, complemented by Laput’s 12 and Sharma’s 11. However, it was NU’s uncharacteristic 30 errors, compared to La Salle’s 17, that ultimately proved detrimental to the defending champions’ poise and aspirations to retain the crown.
In the end, La Salle’s redemption story was etched in the hearts of fans. An improbable run against a team they did not win a set against last season until the summer league games.
It was more than redemption, it was magic.
An Angel that conquered the floor on her way to a Rookie-of-the-Year and MVP award. A maligned setter who turned into a playmaking wizard. A high leaping phenom with minimal volleyball skills who turned into a gem of a rotation player. A middle monster who terrorized oppositions to no end.
And even on the season’s last game, the Coach Ramil De Jesus magic still managed to make a third stringer into a legend.
ANIMO LA SALLE!
ANIMO LADY SPIKERS!!!