Flashback Friday: Insane numbers in Ateneo-DLSU UAAP 74 end of elims

Mark Escarlote on Feb 12, 2016 04:54 PM
 Insane numbers in Ateneo-DLSU UAAP 74 end of elims
This day marks one of Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle's greatest battles in the UAAP women's volleyball.

Numerous anecdotes were made in the storied Ateneo de Manila and De La Salle rivalry in the UAAP women’s volleyball.

But what marked the most in these spectacular and dramatic clashes was the match that happened on this very day, February 12, four years ago at The Arena in San Juan. 

It was a battle that ultimately sealed the volleyball rivalry between these two proud schools. It drew the line between the green and blue supporters.  

Individual statistics in this game blew the roof off the arena.

The large crowd of 4,740-strong – yes it may be just a speck compared to the screaming fans of the rivalry today – were treated to an epic duel that defined the present collegiate superstars.

The atmosphere inside the venue became electric as soon as the curtain-raiser of the last playdate of Season 74 elimination round ended with the National University Lady Bulldogs led by a raw but hard-hitting freshman Myla Pablo smashed the winless Southlyn Ramos-led University of the Philippines to end the season with two victories.

Out from the dugout came the mighty Lady Spikers and the emerging Lady Eagles for the pre-game warm ups. On their background was the deafening roar of their fans and the loud pounding of each school’s drums.

Ateneo had in its wings the “Fab Five” composed of lookers Gretchen Ho, skipper Fille Saint Merced Cainglet, Dzi Gervacio, setter Jem Ferrer and A Nacachi. Behind them was a sophomore libero in Denden Lazaro while a recruit from University of Sto. Tomas high school – Alyssa Valdez – was then slowly making her presence felt as a part of the Roger Gorayeb-mentored Lady Eagles’ starting lineup.

Their mission: stop the green-clad Lady Spikers from making a shortcut to the Finals armed with a thrice-to-beat advantage.

DLSU had the look of invincibility that season.

Head-turner Cha Cruz captained a deep and very talented team that rammed each opposing teams it encountered in its first 13 games.

The rest of her crew had the word “champion” written beside their names: Michele Gumabao was coming off a season where she was named Best Blocker, third year Aby Marano – with lesser hair clips – was a dangerous middle that will attack and block with a swagger, heady setter sophomore Mika Esperanza, defense specialist Mel Gohing and a pair of promising rookies: Mika Reyes and Ara Galang.

Ateneo was fresh from a five-game winning streak and had in its back the support of University of Sto. Tomas, Adamson and Far Eastern University – all rooting for them to prevent DLSU from making a historic sweep of the eliminations for an outright Finals berth and an incentive under the league’s new format. 

The Lady Spikers were blazing in the second round winning each game in three sets.

When the opening serve was hit – an ace coming from Ferrer off the hands of Cruz – an epic was already unfolding.

The Lady Eagles behind Cainglet and Valdez with Ferrer steering the offense surprised DLSU in the opening set – the first frame yielded by the Lady Spikers in the second round after dropping only six in the opening salvo of the elims.

The Taft-based squad recovered in the second frame but their rivals from Loyola pushed them to the wall by taking the third set.

However, DLSU was no stranger to five sets. Maturity and mental toughness were their weapons.

The Lady Spikers recovered in the fourth set to force a decider – a situation where Ateneo should’ve had avoided.

In the deciding set, DLSU made them pay.

Marano pummeled the Lady Eagles with three straight points to open the first four markers of the frame. Valdez closed the gap with an attack but Reyes answered with a frontline kill.

DLSU enjoyed an 8-4 lead heading into the first technical timeout. They widened the advantage to 11-4 as Ateneo players gasped for air and were slowly fading in the game.

With Valdez trapped in the backline, the Lady Spikers were destroying the frontline defense of Ateneo with Marano scoring on a runner for a 13-5 lead. Cruz put DLSU at match point with an off the block smash.

Cainglet and Ella de Jesus toiled to keep Ateneo in the game, saving two match points but the Queen of Swag Marano ended the run with a quick kill to the back row that the then Queen Eagle Cainglet failed to control.

After the smoke of war cleared, DLSU outlasted Ateneo, 18-25, 25-14, 21-25, 25-19, 15-7, in a memorable match that lasted for 124 minutes.

And the statistics in the score sheet were staggering.

Marano led the Lady Spikers with 20 points, all but one coming off kills, Cruz had 19, Gumabao 12 while Reyes and Galang scored 10 and nine, respectively.

Cainglet and Valdez made a valiant stand and finished with 16 each.

But what made this game particularly memorable was the numbers put up by players outside the scoring box.

Esperanza and Ferrer showed a playmaking showdown unequaled in recent years.

The DLSU setter dished out a whopping 71 excellent sets out of the 74 tallied by the Lady Spikers. Esperanza did it in 133 attempts. 

Ferrer, who in Seasons 72 and 73 was adjudged Best Setter, had 62 out of Ateneo’s 63 overall also in 133 attempts.

Defensive stats were also eye-popping.

Ateneo had 54 digs compared to 51 by DLSU.

Lazaro pulled 21 digs with Cainglet helping her with 11. Galang and Cruz had 12 each.

But Lazaro outshone everyone in reception as the diminutive libero tallied 29 of their 43 perfect receives, leaving the veteran Gohing choking with 11.

Unfortunately, neither of Ferrer and Esperanza won the Season 74 Best Setter. It was awarded to a steadier Gyzelle Sy of FEU.

Lazaro was also eclipsed by Lady Tam Tin Agno (Best Digger) and Adamson’s Angelica Vasquez (Best Receiver).

Gumabao pocketed her second Best Blocker citation while Galang was named Best Server and Rookie of the Year. Marano got her first of two straight Most Valuable Player awards.  

No Ateneo player won an individual award that year.

The Lady Eagles will eventually survive the stepladder semifinals and pull a surprise in Game 1 of the championship but Season 74 was destined for DLSU.

The Lady Spikers will win the next two games for the second of their three-peat.

Ateneo parted ways with Gorayeb and the “Fab Five” after Season 75, where the Lady Eagles absorbed another heartbreak against DLSU. In Season 76, Ateneo got their sweet revenge.    

But that Season 74 end of eliminations clash will be one of the top battles these two teams ever fought.      

So, where were you when this happened?

Checkout the game's stats here:   

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