La Salle stretches spotless season start, seeks stronger showing as two key matches beckon
La Salle preserved its win streak by vanquishing yet another foe on Saturday, but coach Noel Orcullo can sense that the Lady Spikers’ unbeaten record is still far from perfect.
“There are still many things that we need to correct,” he said. “We continue to commit lapses and there’s a tendency to relax every time we’re ahead by a wide margin.’’
That tendency to relax reared its head in the third set of what had started to seem like a routine cruise for La Salle against dangerous Far Eastern University (FEU)—it took key points from Thea Gagate at the net to finally close out the Lady Tamaraws, 25-16, 25-18, 25-21, at PhilSports Arena.
“We have to polish our movements going into the last two games [of the first round]. We have to address all our shortcomings and find the weaknesses of our opponents,’’ said Orcullo.
And they won’t be ordinary two games for La Salle.
After picking up win No. 5 in as many games, the Lady Spikers will wind up their first round schedule against Adamson and defending champion National University (NU).
The Lady Bulldogs have lost only once this season—to University of Santo Tomas (UST)—and just once, in fact, over their last 22 games in the league. The Lady Falcons, meanwhile, after having dragged NU to a five-setter before losing, whipped the Tigresses to establish themselves as legitimate title threats.
“Adamson is a solid team and there’s little chance you’ll see them commit mistakes. It will be a tough stretch with these formidable teams,’’ Orcullo said.
Gagate and rookie Angel Canino delivered 13 points each for La Salle, whose array of scorers pounced on Mars Alba’s 19 excellent sets to deliver key attacks against FEU.
“This win elevates our confidence as a team. Defensive-wise, we improved a lot,’’ said Canino.
The Lady Tamaraws made a game of it in the third set but Gagate, the 6-foot-2 middle blocker, pushed the Lady Spikers to match point before Cherie Tagaod’s attempt hit the antennae in the final play, dropping FEU to a 2-3 (win-loss) card.
La Salle will have an added weapon up its sleeve as it looks to iron out the remaining spots of imperfection in its game.
Minor knee injury
Alleiah Malaluan returned from a minor knee injury and is slowly working her way back to La Salle’s rotation, providing the league-leading school with another attack option at the outside hitter’s position.
“I’m still adjusting inside the court since I [feel] like [I am] a new player. Even though I’ve been training with them, I need to adjust more since they move differently,” said Malaluan, who knows the importance of getting back into match shape as La Salle prepares for its last two games.
“This match is a good learning experience since our next games will be against high-level teams. It’s a boost to our confidence and at the same time we will be able to improve our lapses because we can’t say that our game is perfect,” Malaluan said.
In the second game, UST recovered from that loss to Adamson by smashing University of the Philippines, 25-17, 25-23, 25-20.
Eya Laure led the Tigresses’ with 14 points, while Imee Hernandez added 11 points.
“In our last game, we didn’t expect that we would perform that way. We worked it out during training and we were able to execute them properly this time,’’ said Hernandez as UST rose to 3-2.