Lady Spikers march to ninth straight Finals stint

Mark Escarlote on Apr 22, 2017 06:38 PM
Lady Spikers march to ninth straight Finals stint
Defending champion De La Salle University is back in the Finals for the ninth straight year.

Defending champion De La Salle University marched into its ninth straight Finals appearance but not after facing stiff resistance from University of Sto. Tomas Saturday in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Final Four at the Big Dome.

The Lady Spikers booted out the Tigresses, 25-14, 25-20, 24-26, 25-13, to secure the first best-of-three championship series berth behind the superb performances of Kim Dy, Desiree Cheng, Majoy Baron, Tin Tiamzon, setter Kim Fajardo and libero Dawn Macandili.

"Wala akong masabi (sa ninth Finals appearance)," said DLSU coach Ramil De Jesus. "Actually, basta kasi, every year mas gusto ko mag-prepare, ewan ko, siguro kaloob na lang ng Diyos yun kasi ang hard work na ginagawa namin, buong year."

After UST rallied in a dramatic third set that saw its top hitter EJ Laure fight on despite a twisted right ankle early in the frame, the Taft-based squad completely silenced the Tigresses in a lopsided fourth set that left the Espana-based squad beaten black and blue.

Baron did most of the damage with 17 points coming of 13 attacks and four kill blocks. Tiamzon blasted 13 markers, Dy had 12 while Cheng and Fajardo, who dished out 39 excellent sets, each had 11 for the Lady Spikers.

Fil-Nigerian Aduke Ogunsanya also played her role well, clogging the net with six kill blocks for nine points for DLSU, which outgunned (48-38) and outblocked (17-8) UST, which played in the Final Four for the first time in five years.    

DLSU raced to a huge 12-2 lead in the fourth that snuffed the fight out of the Tigresses, who went down by as deep as 19-4. UST failed to cut their deficit to single digit from there.

The Lady Spikers will await their Finals opponent between the twice-to-beat Ateneo de Manila and Far Eastern University, which will battle in the other semis pairing on Sunday. The championship series starts April 29. 

DLSU controlled the first two sets before UST made a strong counter in the third building a 6-1 advantage. Laure twisted her right ankle when she landed on the foot of Dy with the Tigresses up, 7-3.

The Lady Spikers were able to rally and took a 15-14 lead. But Laure showed her great fighting heart as she returned to the game and helped UST reclaim the lead.

The Tigresses went up, 24-21, but DLSU fought its way back to tie the frame at 24. UST hitters Shanen Palec and Cherry Rondina scored the last two points to extend the match.

UST’s Finals drought extended to seven years but was able to quench a four-year Final Four dryspell.

Rondina finished with 16 points - all from attacks - while Laure and Ria Meneses scored 14 and 10, respectively, for the Tigresses, who gave away 11 aces to DLSU.



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