La Salle outlasts UST in thriller
Pushed to its limit, defending champion De La Salle University scraped past University of Santo Tomas, 25-20, 17-25, 25-22, 15-25, 15-8, in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Spikers began their first year without famed setter Kim Fajardo and they relied on a balanced attack by their veterans to throw off the pesky Golden Tigresses.
And as untested as she may be compared to the three-time UAAP Best Setter, Michelle Cobb proved her worth for the Lady Spikers as she orchestrated their offense to the tune of 37 excellent sets, 11 more than the UST team.
Reigning MVP Mary Joy Baron led La Salle with 19 points while Desiree Cheng and Aduke Ogunsanya had 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“We really expected that we won’t beat UST that easily,” said La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus in Filipino. “As for now, I can give my players a passing grade because they won, although I really saw their character in the fifth set.”
The Lady Spikers had a comfortable 10-5 lead in the fifth set but saw the lead dwindle to two, 10-8, after Cherry Rondina sneaked an off-speed left-hander.
The Golden Tigresses, however, eventually shot themselves in the foot with three straight errors that gave La Salle a 13-8 lead.
Tin Tiamzon then gave La Salle the 14-8 match point with a crosscourt kill before a team block on Rondina ended the match.
La Salle bucked down against the two-person onslaught of UST in the form of Rondina and rookie Melina Alessandrini, who had 28 and 18 points, respectively.
And UST’s two stars weren’t the only problems for the Lady Spikers as Season 78 Finals MVP Kianna Dy played with a sore right knee after hyperextending the joint in practice a couple of weeks ago.
De Jesus said he had to wait until team physicians gave Dy the clearance to play to adjust his lineup.
“I had to make adjustments in the last minute, and it proved really difficult on how to rotate my players.”
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