With a masterful performance against the same Lady Bulldogs in the first round, the Lady Spikers were given a run for their money but pulled through with clutch plays and championship poise in the end as the Season 75 champs outlasted the NU Lady Bulldogs, 25-22, 25-20, 21-25, 27-25 at the San Juan Arena.
NU showed great resolve throughout the match, meeting each La Salle rally with one of their own, but it was their reception that failed them in the end as the Lady Bulldogs gave up 10 La Salle aces and only managed nine excellent receptions.
The Lady Bulldogs looked sharp to begin the match, pounding the La Salle defense for a 7-3 lead. It didn’t take long for the Lady Spikers to regain control of the set, tightening up their defense to forge an 18-13 lead late in the set. The Lady Spikers had to fend two strong rallies from their foes from there, one that trimmed their lead to 18-16 and another that tied the set at 23. La Salle eventually came out smelling like roses but not before multiple frustrated timeouts from coach Ramil De Jesus.
The second frame marked another tight clash between both squads with NU eventually getting the shorter end of the stick. NU managed to match La Salle blow per blow up until the set reached 20 all. La Salle’s defense held through when their foes tried to grab the set from underneath them, shutting down all of their opponent’s advances.
The third set saw a revitalized NU squad pull themselves out of the same tight situation they were in the first two sets. With the set hanging in the balance at 16 all, the Lady Bulldogs managed to build a lead and fended off a furious La Salle rally at the end of the set with tremendous play from their middle blockers, Desiree Dadang and Jaja Santiago.
The Lady Bulldogs fell apart when they had the set in hand in the fourth frame. Managing to piece together another solid run of volleyball, the Lady Bulldogs erected a 23-20 lead. The Lady Spikers, however, thwarted NU’s fifth set bid by buckling down and trusting their league-best blocking, eventually forcing a deuce and claiming the match.
With the win, La Salle clinches their seventh straight Final Four berth, holding a 9-1 record while NU has yet to win a game in the second round, falling to 4-6, tied with UP.
NU will face UE at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Feb. 7 while DLSU has UST up next on Feb. 4 at the San Juan Arena.
DLSU – Reyes 15, Galang 14, Demecillo 8, Baron 8, Cerveza 8, Cheng 7, Fajardo 6, Tiu 3, Soyud 2, Dy 1, Cruz Ci. (L) 0, Macandili (L) 0
NU – Santiago 25, Pablo 13, Mandapat 8, Singh 7, Dadang 6, Abriam 1, Perez 1, Soliven 0, Valdez (L) 0, General (L) 0