After failing to get past the Ateneo de Manila University Lady Eagles for the last three years, the De La Salle University Lady Shuttlers have finally broken through.
The biggest difference this season is returning player Nicole Albo, as it was the national team stalwart who sent the Taft-based squad to the promised land.
Albo denied Trixie Malibiran another heroic act, as the former did one herself, as La Salle took the tie at 3-2 and sealed a Finals stint, Saturday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Badminton Hall.
Bianca Carlos successfully ended her UAAP career undefeated in all her singles matches. The graduating Queen Eagle made short work of Iyah Sevilla in just two games, 21-12, 21-10 .
The third-year La Sallian tried to made amends on last tie’s blunders, but Carlos was just too much to handle.
Arianne Rivera then had to put off the challenge of Cassie Lim in their rematch at the second singles match in three sets.
The Lady Shuttler junior easily pocketed the first frame at 21-14 , but the Ateneo captain equalized in the second at 21-19. From there, Rivera slowly strung bunch of points to ultimately put La Salle even against Ateneo at 21-16.
As in the previous tie, Isay Leonardo and Albo put the Green and White in the lead. The national team stalwarts needed just two sets to finish off Geva De Vera and Trixie Malibiran. It was a tighter second frame at the start, but the La Sallians pulled away late to take the match at 21-13, 21-16.
Carlos also finished her UAAP stint with a win in her last doubles match, as she and constant partner Chanelle Lunod took care of Sevilla and Lindsay Tercias in three sets. After a blow out 21-9 first game in Ateneo’s favor, La Salle snagged the second at a tight 21-18 finish. Nonetheless, the Lady Eagles resumed their dominant form to end the match 21-12.
With the lineups pointing to a marathon tie, Albo shrugged off the pressure and instead, “Sinaya ko lang yung sarili ko. Hindi ko inisip na, naku, nakasalalay sa ‘kin yung panalo.”
Playing with both enjoyment and composure, the returning junior packed up the tie in two convicing sets at 21-12, 21-13, and sent La Salle back to the Finals.
The Lady Shuttlers will face the defending champions University of the Philippines Lady Maroons for the season title starting in Tie 1 of the series, Sunday afternoon, October 15 at 1pm.