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Rookie-laden La Salle overcomes defending champ Ateneo to open UAAP Season 82 bid

De La Salle University bucked an error-strewn performance, taking down Ateneo de Manila University, 25-17, 17-25, 25-17, 25-15, to open its UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball campaign before an ecstatic crowd of 12,907 inside the SM Mall of Asia Arena, Saturday.

Tin Tiamzon flaunted her all-around wares with a triple-double of 17 points, 13 digs and 12 receptions. She showed the way for the rookie-laden Lady Spikers, who coughed out 33 errors.

La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus attributed the mistakes first-game nerves.

“Very crucial na game for us. Isa pa, ‘pag ganitong first game [and’yan] ‘yung tinatawag na first game jitters,” the decorated mentor said.

“Pero kita naman natin kahit bata ‘yung players namin, medyo nakikita mo nawawala. Pero siyempre nakakabalik din. Hindi madali ‘yung pinagdadaanan namin this game. Sabi ko, basta tiwala lang,” he furthered.

Sophomore Jolina Dela Cruz was also reliable with 13 markers. Meanwhile, freshmen Thea Gagate and Leila Cruz made a splashing debut with 10 and nine points, respectively.

The Lady Spikers raced out of the gates, blitzing the Lady Eagles through stifling defense and steady collective effort. Faith Nisperos broke Ateneo’s silence in the second frame, rolling out an avalanche that overturned a 16-12 deficit with a 13-1 set-clinching run.

The reigning champions continued to dictate the tempo in the third stanza until La Salle flipped the switch. Fueled by a combination of precise execution and Ateneo’s poor defense, the Lady Spikers snatched a 2-1 set lead. They then sprinted to a 17-7 spread in the fourth courtesy of a Jolina Dela Cruz hit.

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The Lady Eagles could not dam the floodgates, crumbling in the face of La Salle’s balanced offensive thrust.

This is the Lady Spikers’ seventh straight victory against their arch-rivals since Season 79.

On the other hand, Nisperos topped Ateneo with 13 points. Jho Maraguinot managed nine. Prolific scorer Kat Tolentino was limited down to just six markers.

DLSU tries to make it two in a row when it collides with University of the Philippines on Tuesday, March 10. Meanwhile, Ateneo seeks to regain footing when it tangles with University of the East on Wednesday, March 11. Both matches will take place at the same venue.

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