LA Salle moved to the UAAP women’s volleyball finals for the sixth straight season, the second-seeded Lady Spikers turning back upset-conscious third seed National University 26-24, 21-25, 25-18, 25-21, on Saturday at the MOA Arena.
The twice-to-beat Lady Spikers came out much more aggressive, and the timing above the net more precise this time, to hold off the Lady Bulldogs who had forced the knockout match with a straight sets win.
La Salle thus arranged another title showdown with defending champion Ateneo, which advanced to the finals outright with a 14-match sweep of the eliminations.
And it won’t be an easy battle, with the Lady Spikers now looking to give the Lady Eagles a dose of their own medicine. Last year, it was La Salle that got to the finals outright and now the it is Ateneo that holds a thrice-to-beat advantage.
But while Ateneo has been well rested and out of match play for a while, La Salle will be entering the title showdown in fine shape after the tough stand by National University.
The Lady Bulldogs gave the Lady Spikers a huge match a few days ago and again came up with solid plays, preventing La Salle from scoring an easy opening set win and taking the second to level the match.
But Ara Galang and the Lady Spikers found their groove in the next two sets, delivering more powerful hits to send the Lady Bulldogs defense scrambling. It also didn’t help that NU committed several service errors that quickly doused fire on their own mini-runs.
The match was stopped when Galang suffered a bad fall and had to be stretchered off with the score at 23-20.
[See La Salle holds breath as Ara Galang rushed to Makati Med to determine extent of knee injury]
But the Lady Spikers resumed play calmly and finished off the Lady Bulldogs, who fell one step short of the finals for the third straight season.
Desiree Cheng scored on a service ace, her lone point in the match, to move La Salle to match point, 24-20. Myla Pablo extended the match, 21-24, but Justine Tiu scored on off the block, her only point after being sent in for Galang, to seal the victory for La Salle.
Galang still led all scorers with 25 points, including six straight before leaving the match.
“Maraming natutuwa dahil maraming nag-aabang ng ganito na Ateneo-La Salle,” Lady Spikers coach Ramil de Jesus.
The opener of the title series is set on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
“’Yung game sa Wednesday, lahat siguro ng pwedeng magawa ng La Salle, gagawin namin.”
Pablo finished with 19 points for NU, Jaja Santiago added 15 and Jorelle Singh chipped in with 12.