LA Salle ended a six-game losing streak to Ateneo by clipping the wings of the two-time defending champions Lady Eagles, 25-22, 25-14, 25-18, in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Lady Spikers last tasted a victory against the Lady Eagles in Game Two of the Finals two seasons ago, when their quest for a fourth consecutive championship was rudely derailed by their Katipunan-based rivals.
It was payback time on Saturday afternoon.
The Taft-based squad improved to 5-1 for the season by putting an end to Ateneo’s six-game winning run for the season and a 24-game unblemished streak dating back to two seasons ago.
In so doing, the Lady Spikers also dealt Ateneo coach Tai Bundit the first loss of his UAAP career.
La Salle was on point from start to finish, taking a fiercely fought first set before stamping its dominance with a second-set run, 20-8, spearheaded bby Kim Fajardo.
“Sabi ko kailangan bumalik ‘yung kumpyansa ng mga bata,” said La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus. “‘Yun naman ang sinasabi ko sa kanila, ibalik ang respect sa inyo noong mga opponents. Kasi mahirap ‘yung palagi kang naghahanda tapos by the end kapos pala.”
Skipper Fajardo, who is also the first setter, finished with 13 points including seven of the team’s 13 service aces while Ara Galang and Mary Joy Baron added 10 markers apiece. Mika Reyes chipped in nine.
Alyssa Valdez was the lone player to finish in double figures with 11 points for Ateneo, which came undone with uncharacteristic errors and mental lapses.
The Lady Spikers had a week to prepare for the Lady Eagles and made the most of it.
“‘Yung confidence ng Ateneo sa laro mataas talaga, so ‘yun ang sinasabi ko sa mga bata, kasi hindi tayo pu-puwede pumasok sa loob ng court na iisipin mo na dehado tayo,” he said.
“So kailangan pumasok tayo doon parehas ang laban, hindi pwedeng iisipin niyo na malabo tayong manalo, so lahat naman pinagpaguran nila,” he said. “Binuhos namin doon para pag-aralan ang Ateneo.”
“Ang plano talaga namin ibalik ‘yung kumpiyansa ng team kasi matagal nang nawala,” he continued.
The eight-time champion coach, however, did not expect to wrap up the win in just an hour and 16 minutes. He was prepared to go down the wire against the Lady Eagles, who beat La Salle in the finals the past two seasons.
“Hindi ko ko inexpect na ganoon, kung mananalo man kami talagang dadaan kami sa pinaka-mahirap na pagdadaanan para manalo,” he said.