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(C) Roman Prospero/SSL


La Salle dominates SSL winner-take-all

De La Salle University added another crown to an already impressive collection by emerging as the inaugural Shakey’ Super League (SSL) National Invitationals champion with a 25-19, 25-22, 25-17 victory in Game 3 against Adamson University on Sunday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.

The Lady Spikers displayed another remarkable performance, defeating the Lady Falcons in just 89 minutes of play to complete a reverse sweep in the best-of-three championship showdown.

After enduring a five-set defeat in Game 1 (25-22, 17-25, 25-17, 25-27, 14-16), La Salle responded with a clinical 25-23, 25-12, 25-18 win in Game 2, setting the stage for their dominant showing in the decisive match, with multiple players contributing significantly.

Tournament MVP Shevana Laput tallied 13 points from 11 hits and two blocks, leading four players who scored in double digits. La Salle extended its reign to the SSL after their triumph in the previous UAAP season.

Laput maintained an average of 20.3 points in the finals, highlighted by a 30-point performance in Game 1 and followed by an 18-point effort in Game 2.

Thea Gagate (1st Middle Blocker), Amie Provido (2nd Best Middle Blocker), and Alleiah Malaluan (2nd Best Outside Hitter) each contributed 10 points to La Salle’s dominance in the 12-team SSL nationwide tournament presented by Eurotel as the official hotel and Victory Liner as the office transport provider, in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).

“Sa amin, exposure ang hanap namin dito pero ito bonus na nag-champion. Maganda kasi kahit paano, nakita namin ‘yung mga kulang pa at kailangang i-adjust pagdating ng UAAP,” said assistant coach Noel Orcullo as the Lady Spikers still rose to another throne even without UAAP Rookie-MVP Angel Canino.

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Trailing 8-11 early in the first set, La Salle unleashed a 10-1 run capped by a Gagate block to take control at 18-12, eventually securing a 25-19 win. This served as their foundation for a strong start in the second set, leading by as much as 11 points.

Although they built an 18-7 lead through a Laput hit, the Lady Spikers faced a challenge from the Lady Falcons, who staged a 15-5 comeback, narrowing the score to 23-22 after a Malaluan error. However, Provido’s powerful hit and Gagate’s timely block saved La Salle with a narrow 25-22 victory.

From that point, La Salle remained in control. They started with a 9-4 advantage and clinched the championship with a red-hot performance, sealing a historic SSL tournament that was also supported by Mikasa, Team Rebel Sports, Summit Bottled Water, Genius Sports, Potato Corner, Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken and Sauce Bar, and R&B Tea.

Lucille Almonte, who scored 24 points in the stunning Game 1 escape act for the Lady Falcons, contributed 11 points in their commendable silver medal finish under new coach JP Yude, after securing third place in UAAP Season 85.

Other awardees included Bernadett Pepito (Best Libero) and Angeline Poyos (1st Best Outside Hitter) from the University of Santo Tomas, which claimed the bronze medal with a 2-0 sweep of the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta.

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