Lady Spikers’ four-peat pursuit dashed as Lady Eagles snatch volleyball title
Published on March 17th, 2014 | by DLSU Sports
The balance of power has shifted to the other side of the city—at least this season.
The Lady Spikers lost hold of the much-coveted volleyball crown after featuring on the wrong end of a 23-25, 24-26, 21-25 beating at the hands of the hard-nosed Ateneo Lady Eagles Saturday afternoon at the Mall of Asia Arena. The Lady Eagles, in the process, have won their first ever volleyball crown.
The straight set beating that looked one-way on paper did not reflect the genuine complexion of the game.
Ateneo took the lead as the match went into its first technical timeout with an 8-5 lead. The Lady Spikers kept within touching distance, narrowing the opponents’ lead at 9-10. After the second technical timeout, in which Ateneo also led 16-13, the Lady Spikers surged to a 6-1 run to go ahead by two. Ella de Jesus’s tip landed inside La Salle’s yard to retake the lead for the girls in blue. That point sparked the rally which ended the set to Ateneo’s way.
The Lady Spikers were eager to avoid facing a 0-2 set deficit that made things difficult for them last Wednesday. The then-champions surged to an 8-3 lead into the first technical timeout. The lead extended to as much as seven, at 17-10, when Aby Maraño scored a service ace. At that point, momentum seemed to have swung La Salle’s way. Ateneo was able to reduce the gap to three as La Salle slowly marched on to nabbing the second set.
Leading 24-21 in the second set, the Lady Spikers had a chance to level the match at one set apiece. Ateneo’s determined crew led by Season 76 Most Valuable Player Alyssa Valdez and her crew thought otherwise. Fearful of giving their rivals, a chance of spoiling a fairy-tale ending for the blue-and-white, the Ateneo Lady Eagles whipped a 5-0 run to snatch the set away from what looked like an impending one for La Salle. A set after, the girls from Katipunan came away with their first UAAP championship in history.
If there was any point in the match that validated Ateneo’s claim to the throne occupied by La Salle for the past three years, it was arguably that set-reversing rally.
The third set was initially tight, with Ateneo holding a narrow one point lead in the first technical timeout. Seemingly lost was the well-known composure that they have carried with them since Season 73, the Lady Spikers fell behind from 9-10 to 10-19 halfway into the third. This prompted Head Coach Ramil de Jesus to call for timeouts. La Salle came to within two at 21-19 courtesy of Ara Galang’s resurgent spikes. An error then killed the game for good, guiding Ateneo to their maiden crown.
Errors plagued Ateneo’s game in the first two sets, but were arguably the better team as they outhustled La Salle in all scoring departments—including blocking—La Salle’s specialty. Despite the abundance of their infractions, the Lady Eagles mustered the composure that the Lady Spikers are well-known for. In the third set, last season’s runners-up were more careful of the leather en route to establishing a lead that was big enough to keep La Salle from creeping back into the winner-take-all duel.
After Valdez’s winning spike, the whole team broke down to tears, particularly skipper Maraño, who had played her last game with the Lady Spikers. In her stay, the team was always in the Finals and won three championships while also winning two MVP plums along the way. Other than that, the team that came so close to a fourth-straight crown this season would definitely come back hungrier and stronger.
The crown goes to Katipunan this time, but surely, the Lady Spikers won’t let it stay there for long.