De La Salle University retaliated with a convincing 25-23, 25-12, 25-18 win over Adamson University in Game 2 to force a rubber match in the 2023 Shakey’s Super League (SSL) National Invitationals Saturday at the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.
Reeling from a massive meltdown in Game 1, the vengeful Lady Spikers rediscovered their aim and took down the high-flying Lady Falcons in only 79 minutes to extend their finale series to a winner-take-all Game 3.
With little to no break, both teams plunge back to action at 4 p.m. on Sunday to slug it one last time for all the marbles of the 12-team SSL nationwide tourney presented by Eurotel as the official hotel and Victory Liner as office transport provider, and in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education (CHED).
Shevana Laput was on target once again with 18 points on 18 hits to spearhead the Lady Spikers’ rebound after her 30-point eruption in Game 1 went down the drain in a 25-22, 17-25, 25-17, 25-27, 14-16 defeat.
Amie Provido contributed 13 points, Thea Gagate had nine while Maicah Larroza and Alleiah Malaluan chipped in six points apiece for the reigning UAAP champions, who are out to expand their territory to the SSL.
“Actually, ‘yun naman ‘yung sinabi namin sa kanila na hindi pwedeng pupunta tayo (sa laban) na magpapatalo tayo. Kailangan manalo. Kailangan maipakita naman sa kanila na defending champion tayo sa UAAP,” said La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo.
“(Kailangan) ma-prove to them na hindi namin basta-basta ibibigay ‘yung panalo sa kalaban.”
True enough, La Salle showed why it’s the reigning UAAP queen for a reason.
The Lady Spikers erased a 21-23 deficit in the first set behind a 4-0 finishing blow and never looked behind with convincing wins in the next two sets for a full reversal after a heartbreaker in Game 1. La Salle led by as many as 10 points in each of the last two sets.
Ayesha Juegos was the lone twin-digit scorer for the Lady Falcons with 12 points as Lucille Almonte bled for just six points after sizzling for 24 in Game 1, where Red Bascon also came clutch only to score nine this time.
Earlier, University of Santo Tomas snared the bronze medal by completing a sweep of the University of Perpetual Help System Dalta with a 25-20, 25-21, 17-25, 25-13 Game 2 win.
The Golden Tigresses made it up for a third-set mishap with a relentless showing in the fourth set for a 2-0 wipeoout in their best-of-three battle for third place after an easy 25-15, 25-22, 25-15 win in Game 1.
It’s the first medal of the Golden Tigresses in any major tournament since 2019 when they finished runner-up to Ateneo in the UAAP Season 81.
“Finally, nagkaroon din kami ng medal. New faces, new chapter for us. We’re a very young team pero may spice ng konti. Parang siling labuyo lang,” said coach Kungfu Reyes, introducing a glimpse of what’s in store for España in a new era after the graduation of its core led by long-time ace spiker Eya Laure.
Super rookie Angeline Poyos marched on to the frontline of the new Golden Tigresses by firing 26 points on 16 hits, two blocks and eight aces while sophomore Regina Jurado chipped in 19 points.
In bagging the bronze medal, UST won five of its six matches with its lone scar coming against La Salle in five sets for a foiled finals bid in the historic SSL tourney also backed by Mikasa, Team Rebel Sports, Summit Bottled Water, Genius Sports, Potato Corner, Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken and Sauce Bar, and R&B Tea.
NCAA Mary Rhose Dapol erupted for 25 points but Perpetual still settled for fourth place, nonetheless ending a stellar run highlighted by an upset win over two-time NCAA champion College of St. Benilde in the quarterfinals.
All SSL matches are accessible across all platforms live and on-demand with Plus Network Digital Media Services, CNN Philippines, Solar Sports Entertainment and TAP Sports serving as media partners.
The historic National Invitationals, with support from Boy Tuikinhoy of Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc., Alex Adeva of Northern Mindanao Volleyball Association of Coaches and Referees and San Juan Red Cross chapter, are also showing live in all Shakey’s branches nationwide.