Published on April 7th, 2018 | by Genrev Josiah Villamin0
DLSU Green Spikers defeat UP Fighting Maroons, keep Final Four hopes alive
The De La Salle University Green Spikers avoided late scares from the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons to win the three-set match, 25-22, 25-23, 25-20, on Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The Green Spikers start strong. The Fighting Maroons threaten late in the period. The former shrug it off and pull away to earn the set. This has been the story of the game through the three sets.
La Salle jumped off to a 4-1 lead over UP after Cris Dumago rejected an attack from the latter. UP made it a one-point game, 5-4, with a Mac Millete off-the-block hit. But, Arjay Onia answered with a service ace to keep his team ahead, 7-4. Furthermore, Raymark Woo connected an attack to maintain the Green Spikers’ three-point lead, 10-7. However, Millete caught fire to tie the set at 10-all. Onia and Woo both scored to lift La Salle and give them back the lead. The latter converted one off the block as the Green Spikers led by two, 16-14, heading into the second technical timeout.
After the break, though, the Fighting Maroons gained momentum. Gian San Pascual ignited a 4-0 run that turned a 16-14 deficit into a 16-18 lead. Millete, on the other hand, continued to pound on La Salle with consecutive off-the-block attacks as UP remained ahead, 18-20. But, the Green Spikers countered the Fighting Maroons’ attack, tying it at 20-all with a block on Millete. A ball out by Jerry San Pedro gave the lead back to La Salle, 22-21. Veterans Reuel Asia and Zim Maravilla took over the finishing touches as the Green Spikers take Set 1, 25-22.
It was a see-saw battle to start the second period as the two teams remained knotted at 5-all. Errors on the part of the Diliman-based squad sent the set to the first technical timeout, with the Taft-based squad up, 8-5. The latter pushed their lead to five, 11-6, after Millete overcooked his attack and Onia served an ace. Another ace by Woo forced UP head coach Hans Chuacuco to burn a timeout as La Salle started to pull away, 15-9.
Similar to the opening set, the Fighting Maroons woke up midway through the set and threaten the Green Spikers. Back-to-back blocks by UP cut La Salle’s lead down to two, 17-15. An ace by Joshua Castillo brought them even closer, 20-19, before San Pedro hit two straight points to tie it at 21-all. Onia connected off-the-block to end the longest rally of the game and push his team to within the set, 24-23. Lastly, Reyes rejected UP to seal the set, 25-23, and take a commanding 2-0 lead over the Fighting Maroons.
The Green Spikers looked to finish the Fighting Maroons in the third set after opening an 8-3 lead heading into the first technical timeout. But, an error on La Salle brought UP to within four, 9-5. Nonetheless, the former detonated a 7-1 bomb to create the widest gap of the game, 16-6. The Fighting Maroons, though, were able to slowly cut the deficit.
UP forced three straight La Salle lapses to trim the latter’s lead to six, 18-12. Then, Castillo blocked Woo to make it a five-point game, 19-14. Moreover, a Fighting Maroon served an ace to make it a four-point game, 20-16. Millete continued to rally the maroon shirts as La Salle held on to a two-point lead, 21-19. A miscue on the side of the green shirts brought UP to within one, 21-20. However, the Green Spikers’ starting unit locked in and took over the endgame. Back-to-back blocks eventually put La Salle to match point, 24-20. Finally, Onia finished the set, 25-20, with an attack as the Green Spikers avoided a collapse.
Arjay Onia finished with 20 points on 16 attacks, two blocks, and two serves en route to the Player of the Game citation.
The DLSU Green Spikers snapped their two-game losing skid and improved to 5-8. Though chances of entering the Final Four remain slim, they look to end the eliminations with a win over the FEU Tamaraws on April 15, Sunday, 8 AM at the same venue.