Lady Spikers regain control, move one win away from fourth straight crown
Published on March 9th, 2014 | by DLSU Sports
The DLSU Lady Spikers responded from their first loss of the season by taking a step closer towards defending the crown that they have owned for the past three years. In the process, they clobbered the Ateneo Lady Eagles in four sets, 25-14, 25-20, 19-25, 26-24, of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Finals Game 2 Saturday afternoon at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
A service error from captain Aby Maraño at match point presented a slight opening for Alyssa Valdez and the rest of the Lady Eagles to have a shot of extending the game into a deciding fifth set. The season MVP and Ateneo captain did pile pressure on the champions with a service ace to bring the fourth set to 24-all, but a service error from her and a weak reception by the Ateneo defense resulted in a much-deserved victory for the Lady Spikers.
Season 74 Rookie of the Year and Season 75 co-MVP Ara Galang led the scoring with a game-high 17 points while her batch mate and frontline partner Mika Reyes provided 14 points to subdue the Lady Eagles. On the other side of the bench, MVP Alyssa Valdez grabbed 15 points for her team—not enough for Ateneo to repeat last Wednesday’s upset.
The three-time reigning champions wiped out the disappointment of last Wednesday’s Game 1 defeat against Ateneo with a scintillating performance in the opening set, taking an 8-6 lead into the match’s first technical timeout. Holding a tight 12-11 lead in the opening canto, the Lady Spikers broke free from the Lady Eagles with a 17-12 lead. Ateneo fell further behind when their experienced libero Dennise Lazaro sprained her ankle while going after a ball near the stands. The Lady Spikers went on to an 8-2 rally to seal the first set.
The second set turned out quite similarly as La Salle forged the separation in the middle of the set. Five straight points turned a narrow 12-10 lead into a wide open 17-10 advantage. The Ateneo frontline recovered to close in at 22-18, but it was a tad late as the Lady Spikers closed it out at 25-20.
The team that took command midway into each set went on to win it; and in the third, it was Ateneo’s turn to impose their intentions. Ateneo initially put their noses in front, surging to an 11-7 lead. La Salle came back to make it tied at 11-apiece. Last year’s runners-up then mustered a 7-4 rally that brought the Lady Eagles in control at 18-14 through an error from Mika Reyes. The Lady Eagles restored their lead to 22-16 through the efforts of Ella de Jesus and Amy Ahomiro and that key run down the stretch of third pushed the match into a fourth set.
The Lady Eagles threatened to steal the match away from the Lady Spikers, taking a hairline 8-7 lead in the set’s first technical timeout. The champions, sensing urgency, turned the game into their favour with a 5-1 swing under the leadership of Maraño who pumped up the team and the green gallery in full voice. Ateneo kept within touching distance of La Salle until the latter crucially extended their lead from 17-15 to 20-15 late in the fourth set. La Salle breezed through 24-21 before three straight points for Ateneo brought the game into a nerve-wracking deuce. A Valdez service error punished her team as La Salle eventually won through an uncoordinated reception by the Ateneo defense.
La Salle mentor Ramil de Jesus was relieved with a win that placed La Salle a step away from a fourth straight championship. “Mas makakatulog kami ng maayos and makakapagrelax kami ng maayos kasi mahirap pag galing sa talo eh. ‘yong motion pati teamwork [naaapektuhan], nagkakaroon ng doubt sa sarili. Malaking bagay na nanalo kami,” said De Jesus with a sigh. He furthered, “Nakababalik na kami from 18-days na bakasyon. Wala ng reason para mawala ulit yung nawala sa’min noongbuong elimination. Mas kailangan na nila magpursige at kapitan na namin ‘to.”
However, De Jesus was wary of an Ateneo comeback in the third set that could have even cost them the game. “Noong second set,sinabi ko na huwag tayo masyado mag-enjoy kasi ‘di pa tapos ‘yung game. Pero noong start noong third set, nakita ko parang nagrerelax na. Mahirap makabalik pag nabuhayan ng loob. Kailangan nasa amin na ‘yong momentum para ‘di na magkaroon ng lakas ng loob yung kalaban kasi yung pinagdaanan ng Ateneo hindi madali kaya ganun kataaas yung moralenila ganun kagaling yung nilalaro nila, so kailangan talaga malampasan namin yun.”
Meanwhile, Galang spoke for her team when asked about the game. “Mindset namin is revenge na rin. ‘Yon na rin ‘yong pinaghuhugutan namin eh. Siyempre natalo na kami. Ayaw na namin maulit and hindi kami magpapaagaw ng korona.” Staying focused on the more important prize, Galang, one of the season’s favorites for MVP, missed out this season to Ateneo’s Valdez. Nonetheless, the Pampanga native was unfazed by the individual honor’s luster. “Wala naman sa’kin ‘yong MVP award. ‘Yon kasi, bonus lang naman. [Ang] focus ko lang naman is ‘yong 4-peat namin. [Ang mas importante naman ay]’yong team goal [at] hindi ‘yong individual goal.”
Game Three, which is a championship-clinching match for DLSU, is set on Wednesday, March 12, 3:30pm at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Game photos can be viewed by following this link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.466534113475347.1073741958.343223135806446&type=3