by Neal Tieng
Disaster struck the young Taft Team yesterday against UST.
The skidding De La Salle Lady Spikers coughed up a late-game four-point lead before allowing the UST Golden Tigresses to steal the game in five sets 24-26, 25-22, 27-25, 23-25, 12-15 yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With La Salle leading 11-7 in the fifth and deciding set, UST fiercely clawed their way back into the game behind Eya Laure as they aggressively challenged the Lady Spikers’ net defense in an 8-1 finishing salvo to clinch the final set and the match.
The loss relegated the Lady Spikers to .500 at 2-2 midway into the first round of Season 84.
The entire match was a repeat of La Salle’s difficulty in their defensive sets, which led to the inability to mount effective attacks to close out sets, and this greatly contributed to the problem of closing out the game when they had a chance to do so.
Having the set-point at 24-23 in the first, the Taft squad squandered the opportunity and yielded to the comeback Tigresses 24-26 behind UST’s Ysa Jimenez. Jimenez went on full attack mode at the end of the set scoring the last two points capped by her quick kill to win set #1.
The Lady Spikers came back with a solid second and third set behind Thea Gagate’s breakout game that complimented Jolina dela Cruz and Fifi Sharma’s stellar outing en route to winning both sets 25-22 and 27-25.
In both sets that were won by hairlines, La Salle protected the net better and capitalized on UST’s unforced errors and less aggressive attacks to get within a set of winning the match.
But just like everything in this long evening, the operative word was “almost”.
With their backs to the wall, UST’s Laure relentlessly hammered the La Salle net defense in the fourth, mixing up strong kills with timely drops into the “donut hole” of the green team’s floor defense behind the blockers that kept DLSU guessing. From a tied fourth-set score at 21-all, Laure went turbo to power the Lady Tigresses to a 23-25 set victory to tie the game at two sets apiece.
And although the Lady Spikers could sniff a tasted victory with the score at 11-7 lead, it was again Laure unleashing bombs after bombs to will her comeback Tigresses to win the game 12-15 in the final set.
Leiah Malaluan once more led all Lady Spikers with 26 points while Gagate and Dela Cruz both scored 12 and Mars Alba finished with 11.
The Lady Spikers will look to stop the slide when they square off against UE on Saturday, May 14.