La Salle showed its big talents had even bigger hearts.
The Lady Archers remarkably rose from two sets down against rival Ateneo, 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-6, to move within a win of a third straight UAAP women’s volleyball championship yesterday in front of an electric crowd of over 17,000 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ara Galang pumped in all of her 17 points on attacks and Michelle Gumabao fired 13 of her 15 points on kills, including the match-clincher in the deciding fifth set.
“We really had a hard time in the first two sets, our skills and heart got challenged,” said Gumabao. “But we trusted each other and we know we’re the back-to-back champs.”
Indeed, the Lady Archers reminded the Lady Eagles that they’re the sport’s reigning queen even when a loss looked imminent in the third frame.
Down at 8-13, the Lady Archers fought back to equalize at 21 and pushed the match into a fourth set, 25-22, following Gumabao’s back-to-back kills.
In men’s action, National University also pulled off an amazing comeback from two sets down to stun defending champion Far Eastern University, 16-25, 18-25, 25-13, 25-17, 15-8, in Game 1 of their own best-of-three series.
Mika Reyes, who scored on a decisive kill that wrapped up the fourth frame, also had four blocks in a 15-point performance
“La Salle played a good game, I cannot take the credit away from them,” said Ateneo coach Roger Gorayeb. “Today they had the bigger heart.”
Abigail Maraño added 11 points and Cyd Demacillo stepped in the final two sets for the Lady Archers, who replicated their come-from-behind win over the Lady Eagles in the first round.
“I just told them to stay composed,” said La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus after the Lady Archers stretched their unbeaten run to 15 games. “We need to work on our blocking because in the first two sets our blocking was disorganized.”
Just when the Tamaraws looked poised for a quick finish, the Bulldogs surprisingly zoomed to a 22-12 advantage in the third frame to stay alive, 25-13, before sustaining their dominant form in the final two sets.
“We really motivated ourselves in the third set,” said NU spiker Reyson Fuentes, whose block on La Salle’s Arvin Avila wrapped up the five-setter. “We knew no one would help us except ourselves.”
Peter Torres led the Bulldogs with 18 points, including 13 kills and four blocks, while Reuben Inaudito had five blocks in a 16-point outing.