By Ardyn Gonzales
The De La Salle University Lady Spikers are now one game away from reclaiming the UAAP championship after escaping the defending champions National University Lady Bulldogs in five sets, 18-225, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13, in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament, Sunday, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum .
Rookie Angel Canino unleashed 21 points in her first Finals appearance in the senior division, tallying 19 attacks and two service aces. While Thea Gagate was unstoppable at the net with 17 points on 12 attacks and team-high four kill blocks.
Although NU had more attacks than La Salle, the Lady Spikers had a block party and registered 16 kill blocks as they were also able to have less errors than the Lady Bulldogs, 24-34.
Down 2-1 in the match, the Lady Spikers showed composure in the fourth set. Knowing what was at stake, they maintained their lead until they reached set point, 24-20. Vange Alinsug saved one for NU, but Bella Belen had an attack error which brought the match to a fifth.
Momentum stayed with the Lady Spikers in the rubber set as they established a crucial 12-9 cushion following some free points given by the Lady Bulldogs through unforced errors.
The defending champions fought back and kept themselves within striking distance, 13-12. A combination play for Canino gave La Salle the match point, but Belen was not giving up and saved one. However, an unfortunate setting error from NU ended the match in favor of the Lady Spikers.
Reigning ROY-MVP Bella Belen had a triple-double performance with 22 points on 21 attacks, 12 excellent digs, and 14 excellent receptions. While Alyssa Solomon was the best scorer with 28 points.
Game 2 of the Finals will be on May 14, 2023, Sunday, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Featured image courtesy of UAAP
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