Defending champ La Salle tops Ateneo to open UAAP Season 81 campaign
MANILA, Philippines—De La Salle’s four-peat bid started off in the right footing after the defending champion dismantled Ateneo, 25-14, 25-17, 16-25, 25-19, in the opening weekend of the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Spikers are aiming to become the first team since University of Santo Tomas, which won seven straight from 1985 to 1991, to win four straight titles.
After a minor hiccup in the third set, the defending champions immediately went back to work in the fourth set showing Ateneo who the boss of the playing field is.
From leading by just two points, 12-10, early in the set, La Salle made a run for it and took a 19-13 lead after Jolina Dela Cruz’ hammering kill.
Desiree Cheng then finished things off with two straight points, the final one an ace to end things and seal the victory for the Lady Spikers.
La Salle head coach Ramil De Jesus said his team being kept from the limelight during the offseason proved to be beneficial since they were essentially an enigma come the tournament.
“I think it was an advantage because they didn’t know who my starters were going to be and what our set plays are,” said De Jesus in Filipino.
La Salle did not join any preseason tournaments before the start of the UAAP while the Lady Eagles were exposed as early as November of 2018 after they participated in the Premier Volleyball League.
This unfamiliarity allowed last year’s substitute May Luna and the rookie Dela Cruz to blossom for the Lady Spikers with 11 points apiece.
Cheng, though, was still La Salle’s main threat with 13 points while Aduke Ogunsanya added 10 points.
Kat Tolentino put up 16 points for the Lady Eagles.
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