The De La Salle University Green Spikers finally broke through, evading a late comeback from thr University of the Philippines Maroons to take a five-set thriller 27-25, 25-21, 18-25, 23-25, 15-11 in the first match of the second round of the UAAP Women’s Volleyball Tournament at the FilOil Flying V Centre.
La Salle nearly surrendered big leads in the opening two sets. Ahead 16-9 in the first frame, UP slowly nibbled at the lead. Trailing by just three, 19-22, UP caught a game-tying 3-0 run, all from Gian San Pascual’s service aces. Luckily for DLSU, team captain Raymark Woo was ready to bail them out. The Cagayan De Oro native valiantly traded points with the Maroons and forced a deuce. Tied at 25, Woo scored La Salle’s last two points, smashing an open set then getting a block on Mark Millete.
Again with a sizable 16-11 advantage in the second set, La Salle went through another collapse. Coming off the technical timeout, the Green Spikers service reception went array, leading to a 7-1 UP blitz. La Salle, however, was once again quick to respond. Going to their wingers, the Green Spikers scored five of the next of points to take a 22-19 advantage. From there, the Spikers finished the set off from the service line, getting a free ball then a UP attack error to end the set.
With their back against the wall, UP responded with a resounding third set victory built on an early seven-point lead. The fourth set also had UP up huge, 20-11. The La Sallians, however, managed a comeback led by veteran middle blocker Ralph Calasin. Calasin came off the bench and provided a presence in front of the net. La Salle slowly hacked away at the lead until UP reached set point at 24-20. Calasin got a block, then proceeded to serve two perfect balls to place La Salle within a point, 24-23. UP team captain, Alfred Valbuena caught a lucky break as his soft hit went unimpeded, forcing a fifth frame.
Things looked bleak for the Spikers in the deciding set as UP bolted to a 10-3 lead. But La Salle had a finishing push in them. DLSU caught a few lucky breaks on UP attack errors while also working hard on floor defense. Raymark Woo did most of the scoring in a 12-1 game-clinching run, breaking La Salle’s six-game slide.
Raymark Woo led all scorers with 27 points while Arjay Onia tallied 14. La Salle amassed 41 errors but were able to off set those with a 58-44 spiking advantage.
“Masaya ako kasi kahit papaano naipakita namin na hindi kami nagpatalo nung dulo,” said DLSU head coach Ron Dulay. “Ngayon we’re just trying to tell them to play with nothing to lose.”
Wendel Miguel tallied 16 points with eight digs and 18 excellent receptions while Valbuena and Millete had 15 points apiece.
DLSU improves to 2-6 while UP drops to 4-4. The Greens Spikers next take on the Far Eastern University Tamaraws on Saturday, 10 a.m. at the FilOil Flying V Centre. UP has the Ateneo Blue Eagles on Wednesday, 10 a.m. at the MoA Arena.
DLSU (3) – Woo 27, Onia 14, Bacon 9, Dimayuga 6, Jose 6, Asia G. 4, Frey 3, Calasin 2, Marco 1, Movido (L), Asia R. (L)
UP (2) – Miguel 16, Millete 15, Valbuena 15, San Pascual 10, Raymundo 8, Acuna 1, Baldelovar 0, Consuelo 0, Nasol (L)