By Ardyn Gonzales
The highly contested UAAP women’s volleyball championship is finally back at Taft after four seasons.
The De La Salle University Lady Spikers emerged victorious in another five-set showdown in Game 2 of the best-of-three finals against the National University Lady Bulldogs, 19-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17, 15-10, Sunday, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
La Salle overcame a 2-0 disadvantage in the match after succumbing the first two sets to the defending champions. In the third set, NU had a strong 6-2 start but with La Salle’s backs against the wall, the Lady Spikers slowly crawled back and reclaimed the momentum in the succeeding frames.
La Salle displayed total dominance in sets three and four as they forced a decider.
In the rubber set, the Lady Spikers were off to a hot start with First Best Middle Blocker Thea Gagate leading La Salle to an early four-point lead, 5-1. NU responded with their own run and forced a 7-all deadlock.
However, the Lady Spikers replied with consecutive block points to establish another four-point advantage, 13-9. Alleiah Malaluan brought La Salle to championship point with a well-placed crosscourt attack before Gagate came up with a strong middle attack to complete the come-from-behind win.
Rookie of the Year and Season MVP Angel Canino led La Salle with 19 points on 12 attacks, a kill block, and five service aces, while Thea Gagate finished with 17 markers including the team-high five kill blocks.
All in all, La Salle registered 16 blocks, guarding the offense of the Lady Bulldogs.
Graduating team captain Mars Alba orchestrated the Lady Spikers’ offense with 16 excellent sets as she also bagged the Finals MVP award.
Meanwhile, Alyssa Solomon tallied her season-high performance with 34 points but she did not have much support in scoring as Bella Belen was limited to just 11.
The Lady Bulldogs bid farewell to their seniors Cess Robles, Jen Nierva, and Joyme Cagande while Mars Alba and Jolina dela Cruz also had their last game for the Lady Spikers.
Featured image courtesy of UAAP
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