Lady Spikers shut down Lady Eagles for 1-0 Finals lead
Mark Escarlote on Apr 23, 2016 06:04 PM
De La Salle sweeps Ateneo de Manila to inch closer to the crown.
De La Salle University finally broke a four-game Finals curse.
The ladies in green are now one win closer to reclaiming lost glory.
Utilizing their tough defensive wall bannered by Mika Reyes, Kim Dy and Majoy Baron, the Lady Spikers silenced the two-time defending champion Ateneo De Manila, 25-22, 25-22, 25-21, to draw first blood in the 78th UAAP women’s volleyball best-of-three Finals series Saturday witnessed by a crowd of 19,961 screaming fans inside the Big Dome.
"Siguro mas relaxed ang mga bata kanina although down kami noong first set so nag-early timeout ako and alam kong babalik ang composure ng mga bata," said a relieved DLSU coach Ramil De Jesus, whose squad needed to rally repeatedly to pull out a shocker that mirrored their straight sets win in the first round of eliminations that put an end to Ateneo's 24-game winning streak.
Ateneo found it hard to scale the Taft towers or even getting the ball to land on the floor if they penetrate the wall with libero Dawn Macandili serving as the last line of defense. The Lady Spikers drained Alyssa Valdez’s stamina by challenging her floor defense while checking her dangerous cross court attacks by sending a two-woman block of either a Reyes, Dy or Baron combination.
Dy led DLSU's balanced offense with 15 points, including 11 from attacks, while Reyes had 13 markers highlighted by six of the squad's total of 13 kill blocks. Ara Galang, who skipped last year's finale after getting sidelined by a left ACL injury, and Baron had 10 markers each.
Kim Fajardo had 39 excellent sets for the Lady Spikers.
The Lady Eagles were at a loss in reading the offensive sets of DLSU, which sent missiles, service gems and off-speed attacks in a collected effort from the Lady Spikers.
Game 2 of the series – the fifth straight of the storied rivalry – is on Wednesday at the MOA Arena.
DLSU played catch up the whole match, with the last being a 3-7 deficit at the start of the third set before taking the fight out of the Katipunan-based squad, which showed some fight in the last stretch before yielding in the end from an off-speed spike by Galang.
Valdez, playing in her last year, carried the scoring load for Ateneo with 17 points while Jho Maraguinot had eight markers. Bea De Leon and Amy Ahomiro had seven each for the Lady Eagles, who again struggled with the quality of their first ball despite having two more total digs (33) than DLSU and 29 excellent receptions compared to the Lady Spikers' 32.
DLSU showed resilience in the second set overhauling a three-point set with a huge 7-1 rally after going down 18-21 for a 2-0 match lead.
DLSU erased an early 1-7 opening set deficit by unearthing a fiery rally sparked by Ara Galang, playing her first Finals game after missing last year’s edition due to a season-ending knee injury, and Dy while the middle duo of Reyes and Baron – who teamed up for six blocks - shut the net for the Lady Eagles’ attackers.
The Lady Spikers caught up with Ateneo at 13 and after the Lady Eagles retrieved the lead with a Fajardo service error, DLSU blasted a 10-4 scoring binge to control set, 23-18. Amy Ahomiro tried to revive Ateneo with consecutive points after DLSU reached set point before Dy sealed the frame with a cross to the delight of the sea of green.
The rivals split their elimination round head-to-head but it is the first DLSU Finals win after losing the last two in Season 76 and getting swept by Ateneo last year.
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