By Ardyn Gonzales
The De La Salle University Lady Spikers ended the championship defense bid of the Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles after a straight-set win over their archrivals, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23, in the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball stepladder semis, Thursday, at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
La Salle returns to the championship round after missing the finals last Season 81, when the Rondina-led UST squad defeated the Lady Spikers in their Final Four match-up.
The Lady Spikers did their assignment as they heavily guarded the spikers of Ateneo, limiting Gandler, Raagas, and Miner to single-digit outputs.
With a 2-0 advantage in the match, La Salle easily established a 21-14 lead in the third set through the efforts of Jolina dela Cruz, Alleiah Malaluan, and Thea Gagate. As the Blue Eagles saw themselves on the brink of elimination, they pulled off a counter 9-2 run to come within one point, 22-23.
Gagate momentarily stopped the run of Ateneo with a quick kill in the middle to reach match point, but Ateneo saved one via an off-the-block hit from Raagas. However, the Lady Spikers did not give a chance to the Blue Eagles to extend the set as Malaluan unleashed the final point for La Salle.
Malaluan, Dela Cruz, and Gagate all finished in double-digits for La Salle, in contrast with Ateneo who only relied on the scoring output of Faith Nisperos.
La Salle will face the still-undefeated National University in a best-of-three Finals.
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