Featuring the Finals combatants of the last six seasons, the De La Salle University Lady Spikers continued their mastery over the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles, 25-20, 25-17, 24-26, 25-20, for their fifth win at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
The perennial rivals last met in the UAAP Season 79 Women’s Volleyball Finals which La Salle swept. The Lady Spikers also averted losing back-to-back matches for the first time since the Season 77 Finals.
La Salle raced out of the gates, blitzing Ateneo with four aces and taking a 16-8 lead. The Lady Eagles fought back, nabbing three blocks in a run that got them to within three, 19-22. The Lady Spikers, however, found a rhythm to close the match as Ateneo made silly mistakes. Reigning MVP Majoy Baron ended capped the Lady Spikers’ 3-1 closing rally with a hit on an over-received ball.
The second frame featured an early exchange of errors with Ateneo coming out with a 13-11 lead. From there, the Lady Eagles’ offense stalled as Lady Spikers veteran Des Cheng found a rhythm from the service area, serving three aces in a 10-0 run that lifted her squad to an insurmountable 21-13 advantage.
Ateneo finally got the jump on La Salle to start the third set. With team captain Maddie Madayag anchoring the attack from the service line, the Lady Eagles established a 12-7 cushion. A string of errors cost the Lady Eagles and gave the Lady Spikers an opening to creep back, 12-10. But, Ateneo quickly clapped back and regained control, 19-10.
Just as the Lady Eagles seemed poised to extend the match, the defending champs showed their championship mettle. Dominating at the net, serve, and attack, the Lady Spikers stifled their foes and knotted the set at 21. Jules Samonte broke Ateneo’s silence, going over two blocks and sparking a heated trade.
The Lady Spikers reached match point first, 24-22, after a Kat Tolentino hit sailed wide. But the Lady Eagles had another run in them, rattling off four straigjt points, including a thunderous smash from Tolentino that gave the Lady Eagles the set.
Both squads struggled to establish wiggle room in the fourth set until La Salle went on a 4-0 run to take a 16-11 lead. The Lady Eagles tried to revice another run, coming within two, 19-21. But the Lady Spikers closed the match thanks to key defensive plays and untimely Ateneo errors.
Calling out his team after their loss to the Adamson Lady Falcons, head coach Ramil De Jesus was glad to see his players’ determination.
“‘Yung determination, ‘yung kagustuhan manalo nandoon na. May mga kailangan pa kaming ayusin sa skills,” De Jesus thought.
Kianna Dy, after subpar outings in their first six matches, notched a career-high 21 points to lead La Salle. Open hitter Tin Tiamzon added 13.
The Lady Eagles played without head coach Tai Bundit and starting libero Dani Ravena. Jhoana Maraguinot led Ateneo, a team that gave up 16 aces, with 13 points.
La Salle ends the first round with a 5-2 slate, just behind the league-leading NU Lady Bulldogs(5-1). Ateneo, on the other hand, holds a 4-3 record.
DLSU (3) – Dy 21, Tiamzon 13, Cheng 11, Baron 10, Ogunsanya 10, Cobb 6, Saga 1, Layug 0, Macandili (L)
ADMU (1) – Maraguinot 13, Tolentino 12, De Leon 11, Madayag 10, Samonte 7, Wong 2, Lo (L)
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