La Salle outlasts Ateneo, deals Lady Eagles their first lossBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines – Defending champion De La Salle rose from two sets down to deal Ateneo its first loss, 26-28, 21-25, 25-13, 25-21, 15-13, Saturday in the UAAP Season 75 women’s volleyball tournament at the frenzied Arena in San Juan.
Ara Galang led the Lady Archers, who tied the Lady Eagles in first place with a 6-1 record, with 18 points on 14 attacks and three blocks.
Neither team wanted to give in but De La Salle proved to be the tougher team as the game, which lived up to its billing, grew weary.
La Salle’s veterans Abigail Maraño and Michelle Gumabao turned things around in the last three sets while also getting a lift from sophomore Mika Reyes, who churned in 16 points on four blocks.
“Bumalik lang ang kumpiyansa,” said DLSU coach Ramil de Jesus, whose squad is eyeing its third straight title. “Kailangan ng mga seniors na tumulong para sa mga sophomores kaya nagising sa third set.”
Gumabao had 12 points while Maraño added 11.
It was a back-and-forth battle up until the final point of the grueling match with Gumabao providing the game-clinching kill that sent Ateneo scrambling to keep the ball alive.
Maraño atoned for his lackadaisical play early with three timely hits in the deciding fifth set, including a spike that made it 12-8.
But the Lady Eagles, whose six-game winning streak got snapped, found themselves in good position to extend the fifth set after Ella de Jesus sent Galang’s attempt back, 13-14.
Alyssa Valdez continued her scoring spree with a game-high 23 points while Fille Cainglet scored 16 points before rolling her right ankle late in the fourth set that sidelined her for the rest of the match.
La Salle capitalized with Ateneo down to five players as Cainglet went down in pain after injuring her ankle. Fajardo forged the fifth set with a well-placed drop that caught the Lady Eagles off guard.