In one of the chippiest matches of the season, the De La Salle University Lady Spikers showed their championship grit, slugging out a three-set win over the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, 29-27, 25-21, 25-22, in Game One of the UAAP Season 80 Women’s Volleyball Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Errors spelled the difference in the opening set of the series. Visibly nervous, the Lady Tamaraws gave up numerous attack errors and found themselves down, 18-23. But FEU slowly crawled back. Thanks to a string of solid serves from Kyle Negrito, the Lady Tamaraws saved three set points and eventually took a 25-24 lead after an ace. But errors piled up again in the late game, as FEU middle blokcer Celine Domingo served long and a combination play for Bernadeth Pons went wrong, giving the Lady Spikers a 27-26 lead. A Toni Basas attack error then gave the Lady Spikers the opening frame.
The Lady Spikers continued to roll in the second set, grabbing a 21-17 lead following a May Luna smash. FEU tried to muster another comeback, coming within two, 23-21. But Luna swooped in to give La Salle set point, which Michelle Cobb followed with a service ace.
With the boisterous cheering from the 14,293 fans fueling every long rally, the Lady Spikers grabbed the win. La Salle erased a 12-15 deficit behind a sudden burst from off-the-bench sparkplug May Luna. The Davao native scored four times in a 7-0 La Salle run that gave her team a 19-15 edge. Luna also almost brought FEU back, hitting into the net and trimming their lead down to two, 23-21. FEU’s inexperience showed in La Salle last two points, as they gave up back-to-back service errors to end the match.
“During eliminations, hirap na hirap kami sa FEU. Ngayon, kung di namin nakuha ang first set, hindi magkakaganoon,” said La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus, who has steered La Salle to 18 Finals appearances in 20 years. “Basta kasi gumalaw sila nang tama dire-diretso eh. Kahit malayo ka di ka nakakasiguro. Sabi ko gumawa lang ng tama kasi yung errors namin ng first set, hindi galing sa ginagawa ng kalaban, mga unforced error na nangyayari sa kabila.
“Well sabi ko sa kanila, susi lang dito, magtiyaga, wag nating i-give up kahit anong situation. Defense man yan, blocking man yan, importante dito ‘wag tayong mag-give up kahit anong situation,” the national team tactician added.
La Salle took full advantage of FEU’s 34 errors. They also dominated the net with 11 block kills to the Lady Tams’ six.
Graduating opposite hitter Kianna Dy topped La Salle with 10 points, while Luna finished with nine markers.
Open hitter Heather Guino-O led the Lady Tamaraws with 14 points. Graduating captain Bernadeth Pons was held to nine markers.
La Salle can clinch a three-peat with a win on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
DLSU (3) – Dy 10, Luna 9, Baron 8, Tiamzon 8, Cobb 4, Ogunsanya 3, Cheng 2, Layug 1, Ipac 0, Saga 0, Macandili (L)
FEU (0) – Guino-O 14, Pons 9, Domingo 8, Basas 6, Carandang 4, Negrito 4, Malabanan 2, Villareal 2, Cayuna 0, Hernandez 0, Atienza (L), Duremdes (L)