Riding on grit and a prayer, La Salle edges Adamson for UAAP Final Four bonus
La Salle always knew it would face the kind of grind it did when it battled Adamson on Wednesday. What the Lady Spikers found out only after the game was that it was the kind of grind they needed.
“[W]e saw our ability to come back from that type of situation,’’ said La Salle rookie Angel Canino.
The situation she was referring to was falling behind after three sets and needing to gut it out in the end before squeezing out a 25-17, 25-27, 23-25, 25-23, 15-9 victory over Adamson to grab twice-to-beat protection in the Final Four of the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament.
“We were obviously off during the second set, but it was an opportunity to test the character of our team,’’ said Canino. “In the end, we showed who we really are and how we fight. Yet, we know our team could do a lot more after everything that we have done.’’
“We made mistakes early and made sure not to repeat them during the most crucial stretch,” she added.
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What the former La Salle-Zobel spiker did in the crucial stretch, instead, was shine.
She finished with a career-high 28 points on 22 attacks. She also posted five blocks, six digs and 19 receptions.
Aside from clinching the semifinal bonus with two games to spare, La Salle also dented Adamson’s morale—a key accompanying result of the win because the two might end up facing each other in the Final Four.
“We had several lapses in the second set, giving Adamson the breaks and the confidence,’’ said La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo after the Lady Spikers picked up their 11th victory against a loss to remain firmly at No. 1.
“But we persevered and pulled ourselves to get the win. It was a test of character for us,’’ added Orcullo.
Thea Gagate also had a personal best of 22 points and added three blocks while Jolina dela Cruz pummeled the Adamson side with 21 points, including three aces, apart from 13 excellent receptions on the defensive end.
With renewed confidence after taking the fourth set, the Lady Spikers rattled off eight straight points and erased any advantage Adamson had, highlighted by crucial aces from Dela Cruz and Canino.
The Lady Falcons fell to 8-4, their chances for a twice-to-beat advantage hanging in the balance.
They are still well inside the Final Four circle, two games up on closest pursuer Far Eastern University (FEU), which scored a 25-21, 25-11, 22-25, 25-21 win over Ateneo in the earlier game.
But FEU faces must-win matches against defending champion National University (NU) and University of Santo Tomas (UST) to keep its semifinal bid alive. And even if the Lady Tamaraws somehow pull that off, one more win by NU, UST and Adamson will seal the Final Four cast.
“We just want to maximize our time and aim for a good finish,’’ said FEU coach Tina Salak, whose team finished last in the previous season.