Lady Spikers draw first blood, near repeat crown
Mark Escarlote on May 02, 2017 06:52 PM
Defending champion De La Salle University moved a step closer to a repeat title.
De La Salle University’s first win against archrival Ateneo de Manila came at the best time in the 79th UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.
Losers in their first two meetings in the elimination round, the defending champions Lady Spikers finally solved the puzzle in their season head-to-head after DLSU turned back the Lady Eagles, 21-25, 29-27, 25-22, 25-20, Tuesday in Game 1 of the best-of-three Finals series at the Big Dome.
Graduating setter Kim Fajardo served as the glue for the squad, helping DLSU draw first blood in their sixth straight Finals showdown.
Ernestine Tiamzon led the Taft-based squad's attack with 15 points all from spikes while Kim Dy finished with 14 markers with 12 coming off kills.
Fajardo had an all-around game scoring seven aces in her 10-point production on top of her 37 excellent sets in DLSU's 51 attack points. The fifth year playmaker also had 10 digs but her leadership inside the court was her biggest contribution for the green and white.
And head coach Ramil de Jesus was all praises for her team captain.
"Mas gusto niya talagang manalo," he said. "Yung leadership niya lumabas and sinundan yun ng kanyang mga teammates."
The Lady Spikers erased a 15-18 deficit in the fourth set with six straight points for a 21-18 lead. DLSU sizzled in their final push to move at match point, 24-19.
Michelle Morente saved a match point for Ateneo with a kill but Dy, who dropped the final hammer in last year’s Finals Game 3, pounded the game-clinching attack to the Lady Eagles' back row.
DLSU turned the tides in their favor in the second set with a morale-boosting rally from five points down and holding on in a tightly contested closing stretch of the frame.
Trailing, 17-22, in the second, the Lady Spikers blasted six straight points coming off service line gems from Fajardo and a string of errors from Ateneo to take the lead, 23-22. DLSU took the set point, 24-23, but DLSU middle Aduke Ogunsaya sent her service straight to the net for a deuce.
The Lady Eagles had three chances to close the set with their last at 27-26 from a kill block by Bea De Leon. Ogunsanya answered with a quick attack before DLSU closed the extended set to even the match, 1-1.
The third was another close set before the Lady Spikers raced to a 20-17 lead and into a 24-20 advantage. Ateneo tried to fight back saving two set points before surrendering the frame.
Jho Maraguinot finished with 16 points with 14 off attacks while De Leon and Morente chipped in 14 and 11 markers, respectively, for the Katipunan-based volleybelles.
Game 2 of the Finals is on May 6 while Game 3, if necessary, is on May 10.
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