La Salle props title drive | Inquirer Sports

La Salle props title drive

Lady Spikers hold off Lady Eagles; Valdez MVP
By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 02:14 AM March 09, 2014

Photo by NOY MOROCOSO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — La Salle put its act together just in time as the Lady Spikers hacked out a 25-14, 25-20, 19-25, 26-24 victory over a gritty Ateneo squad and moved on the cusp of a fourth straight crown in the UAAP Season 76 Women’s Volleyball Tournament Saturday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Determined to get back at the team that snapped its 30-match winning streak, Ara Galang notched 17 points, most of them coming in the first two sets that helped the Lady Spikers establish control on their way to victory in a shade under two hours.

Mika Reyes and Abigail Marano also dished out solid games with 14 and 11 points, respectively, for the Lady Spikers, who now have two chances of clinching the crown with the first coming in Game 3 on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.

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Unrelenting on attack and solid defensively, the Lady Spikers hardly gave the Lady Eagles room to operate in the first two sets.

Kim Fajardo, the tournament’s best setter, once again sparkled with 26 excellent sets.

And while La Salle momentarily lost grip of the match in the third frame, the Lady Spikers showcased the steel and resolve that have become a hallmark of their campaign in the fourth set.

“This is the real La Salle team,” said La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus. “We recovered and we didn’t want to give (Ateneo) that momentum.”

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The Lady Eagles saved two match points and looked poised to extend the match into a fifth set when Alyssa Valdez fired back-to-back aces that leveled the fourth frame at 24.

But Valdez snuffed the rally with a service miscue and another unforced error from the Lady Eagles dashed their hopes of a comeback before a season high crowd of 17,105 spectators.

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“It’s hard to put away a team like Ateneo because they’re playing at a high level,” said De Jesus.

“We always need to improve our game and the third set was a wake-up call. We were enjoying too much. We took things for granted.”

The loss spoiled what would have been a perfect day for Valdez, who was earlier adjudged Most Valuable Player of the season as well as best scorer and best server.

The Lady Eagles came into the match inspired after surviving three knockout matches and prevailing in four sets in Game 1 that negated La Salle’s advantage for sweeping the elimination round.

But their hopes of a repeat win suffered a blow when their defensive anchor Dennise Lazaro twisted her ankle while chasing the ball in the opening set.

Lazaro returned in the third set and inspired the Lady Eagles to climb out of an early 0-4 hole.

Valdez, limping and all, came up with decisive hits to keep the Lady Eagles in the match.

There was no stopping the Lady Spikers though when the game was on the line.

“Our mindset was getting our revenge,” said Galang. “We lost and we wanted to get back at them.”

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The other individual awardees were Aleona Denise Santiago of National U (Best attacker), Katherine Bersola of University of the Philippines (Best Blocker) and Alyja Santiago of NU (Rookie of the Year).

TAGS: Abi Marano, Alyssa Valdez, Ara Galang, Ateneo, Denden Lazaro, La Salle, Mika Reyes, UAAP season 76

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