After starting the season shakily, DLSU’s Kim Fajardo and Cyd Demecillo rode a late surge of wins to bring their program its first UAAP Beach Volleyball title, eliminating Ateneo in the Final Four then sweeping FEU in the Finals yesterday at the Sands by the Bay.
The Lady Spikers ended Saturday with a tough loss to Ateneo’s Alyssa Valdez and Bea Tan who forced a do-or-die match to kick off the final day of competition. Though both squads surrendered several errors, the Lady Spikers eeked out a close 20-22, 21-17, 16-14 victory early in the morning. The Lady Eagles struggled to field in their services but the Lady Spikers had a tougher time coordinating their attacks in the first set, putting them in an early hole. Demecillo and Fajardo, however, settled down and minimized their mistakes in the following sets while Ateneo continued to cough up errors. The Lady Spikers built a comfortable lead then forced a third set where they vaulted ahead, 11-7, with the Lady Eagles continuing to pad their lead with unforced errors. Valdez and Tan, however, had one more comeback in them trimming La Salle’s lead immediately then forcing a deuce. Fajardo scored off a powerful smash to gain advantage then Alyssa Valdez ended the match and her season with an attack thet failed to cross the net, marking La Salle’s third win in their four matches with the Lady Eagles in the tournament.
The Lady Spikers then swept their best-of-three Finals series against FEU’s Bernadette Pons and Kyla Atienza, who tore through La Salle in the elimination round. The Lady Spikers quelled the Lady Tams, 21-17, 16-21, 15-12 in Game One then pounced on the weary Lady Tams in Game Two, 21-16, 25-23. Pons and Atienza had demolished opponents with their powerful serving and creative attacks but La Salle imposed their game plan from the first point. The Lady Spikers targeted Kyla Atienza, a libero in the indoor competition, and forced her to attack. Atienza usually dealt with being targeted by attacking off the first touch or producing great dig passes so Pons could attack off the second touch. But La Salle limited those opportunities in both their Finals games and kept their energy up throughout the matches despite having played more games and just coming off a late game in the PSL. Both Demecillo and Fajardo kept an unrelenting pace with their loaded, target serves and varied attacks.
Before today, La Salle’s best finish in either Men’s of Women’s competition was the Lady Spikers’ silver medal finish last season where Demecillo and Fajardo lost in the Finals against UST’s Cherry Rondina and Rica Rivera.
Surviving do-or-die matches against Rondina and Rivera as well as their heated rivals from Loyola, the pair of La Sallians admitted that those trials made their championship all the more sweeter.
“I wasn’t expecting [to win the championship] talaga kasi noong first few games namin last week naunahan kami agad ng talo. Siguro tiyanaga na lang namin hanggang makarating kami sa Finals… Sobrang saya, [kung iisipin yoong] lahat ng pagod, lahat ng init na dinaanan namin. Sobrang worth it,” Demecillo lamented adding that she barely got any sleep before the day. Demecillo had played her final beach volleyball match in college as she has used up her playing years.
“‘Yun naman ‘yung goal namin, siyempre lahat naman ng team ang goal ‘yung championship, since nakuna namin, siyempre buong La Salle community masaya na din,” Fajardo said adding that this was her final run at beach volleyball despite still having one more playing year.
“‘Nung una, 0-2 kami. So sinabi namin na ‘La Salle tayo, hindi tayo pwede na ganito. Dapat may patunayan tayo,” Fajardo continued also mentioning that she wanted to win to give her younger teammates that will be competing without the veterans in the Uni Games inspiration to win a championship themselves.
Kim Fajardo also won the tournament’s MVP Award, her first such plum in her collegiate career. NU’ s Jasmine Nabor took home ghe Rookie of the Year award.
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