La Salle forges duel vs Ateneo, knocks UST off overall throne


08:23 PM February 23rd, 2013

By: Jasmine W. Payo, February 23rd, 2013 08:23 PM

Mikaela Esperanza sets up La Salle Teamate Mika Reyes ,for a kill off Myla Pablo of NU ,at the Smart Araneta . INQUIRER PHOTO /AUGUST DELA CRUZ

La Salle picked up more than just a championship berth after arranging a title rematch with rival Ateneo in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament Saturday at the packed Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Flashing their stellar form in front of a crowd of over 12,000, the Lady Archers dispatched jittery first-time semifinalist National University, 25-18, 25-23, 25-18, behind the quartet of Michelle Gumabao, Ara Galang, Mika Reyes and Abigail Maraño.

“They (Lady Bulldogs) had a lot of service errors, so we took advantage and the team got more confident,” coach Ramil de Jesus said after his Lady Archers stretched their unbeaten run to 14 games.

Ateneo also survived a hard-fighting Adamson crew with Alyssa Valdez at the helm for a 25-23, 25-23, 26-24 victory in the second semifinal match.

“I reminded them not to let Adamson pull away because it’s so hard to catch up against them,” said Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb even as his Lady Eagles battled back from a 19-23 deficit in the final set.

But more than just earning a shot at bagging a third straight crown, the Lady Archers’ volleyball victory assured La Salle of the overall championship for the first time since joining the league in 1986.

La Salle unexpectedly snapped University of Santo Tomas’ reign for 14 straight years in the seniors division as the Tigers failed to defend their usual fronts in second-semester sports.

The Lady Archers easily put the Lady Bulldogs by the wayside in the third set as Galang and Reyes towed them to a 19-10 advantage before finishing with a combined 29 points.

Maraño added 11 markers and Gumabao also capped her 10-point outing with a match-clinching service ace.

Valdez, who fired all but two of her 22 points on kills, anchored the Lady Eagles’ late run just when the Lady Falcons looked poised to extend the match to a fourth set with a 20-16 lead.

Game 1 of the best-of-three title series is set at 4 p.m. on Saturday also at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Earlier, defending champion Far Eastern University and National University arranged a title clash in men’s volleyball.

The Tamaraws cruised past La Salle in straight sets, 25-23, 25-21, 25-13, behind Arvin Avila’s 17-point outing.  Peter Den Torres similarly fired 17 to power the Bulldogs to a 25-22, 22-25, 25-19, 25-20 victory over Adamson.

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