DEFENDING champion La Salle secured at least a playoff for a twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four round after beating University of the East, 25-17, 25-16, 25-19, on Wednesday in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament at the Arena in San Juan:
Seldom-used Ynna Hatulan scored on back-to-back attacks as the Lady Spikers finished off the Lady Warriors, scoring their fifth straight win and tightening their grip on the No. 2 spot with a 10-3 win-loss record, behind league-leading Ateneo (10-2).
Rookie Jolina Dela Cruz and Aduke Ogunsanya led the charge for La Salle, which had a luxury of rotating its players against the also-ran Lady Warriors.
The Lady Spikers fell behind 10-12, in the third set but quickly regained control with an 8-2 run led by Ogunsanya and Dela Cruz.
The Lady Spikers play their final elimination-round match on Sunday against Far Eastern University (8-5).
UE was without Mean Mendrez, who was in street clothes nursing a high fever and tonsillitis, as it dropped to 3-10 record.
The Lady Red Warriors play their last match of the season against Ateneo on Sunday.
De la Cruz and Ogunsanya had 10 points each, while Tin Tiamzon had nine hits. Des Cheng and Lourdes Clemente added eight markers each, while setter Michelle Cobb dished out 20 excellent sets on top of three points.
“Lagi kong nireremind yung mga bata na this is an important game. Wag magrerelax, wag sobrang over confidence kasi nothing to lose yung UE,” De Jesus said. “Kanina kita mo naman mula first point hanggang dulo andoon yung kapit ng UE so talagang gusto manalo. Medyo lumayo lang nung medyo kontrolado na yung galaw.”
De Jesus said the long break was a factor in their sluggish plays unlike their solid performance against Ateneo before the Holy Week.
“Mahirap yung nagpapahinga e. Dahil pagdating parang kinakalawang tapos hindi ka makatune up dahil sobrang tight ng days para doon sa games kumbaga sa sasakyan. Nagpaoverhaul ka tapos walang tune-up kasi pinahinga mo e.”
Judith Abil led the Lady Red Warriors with 16 points and also had 20 excellent receptions and 10 digs, while libero Kath Arado had 15 digs and 12 excellent receptions.