La Salle dethrones NU for UAAP women’s volleyball crown
MANILA, Philippines–On the day six of its standouts were crowned as UAAP Season 85’s best, La Salle claimed the one that truly mattered.
Top-ranked Lady Spikers showed tremendous fight in the clutch to crawl back from an early two-set deficit and hack out an epic 19-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17, 15-10 victory to sweep the UAAP women’s volleyball crown off National University’s head Sunday night at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Angel Canino starred for La Salle with a team-high 19 points on the day she was crowned UAAP’s rookie-Most Valuable Player.
Thea Gagate, meanwhile, came through in the deciding fifth set to help dethrone NU and reinstate La Salle as a powerhouse in the competition where it was once the proverbial bar for many schools.
“Ginusto ng mga bata na manalo. Kahit nung down kami, sabi namin di pa tapos ‘yan, kailangang gumapang tayo para makuha natin. At least, tinyaga nga nung mga bata,” said La Salle interim coach Noel Orcullo.
“Kahit sabihin mong five sets? Masarap manalo kung pinaghirapan mo,” he added.
Named the 1st Best Middle Blocker this season, Gagate played splendidly on both ends of that critical last set, blocking attacks from NU stars Alyssa Solomon and Bella Belen before drilling the championship-sealing hit before 20,514 fans at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“Nangangatog na talaga kasi pinaghirapan namin yung season na ‘to. But thank you kay Lord, kay coach Ramil (De Jesus) at sa mga patuloy na naniniwala samin since day one,” said Mars Alba, La Salle’s graduating setter who bagged the Finals MVP.
Sunday’s title is the first for the Lady Spikers since 2018 and the program’s 12th overall.
Solomon had 34 points for NU while Belen chipped in 11 more. But without Sheena Toring who tore her knee ligament in Game 1, the Lady Bulldogs hardly stood a chance fending off the La Salle rally.
WATCH: Mars Alba, Angel Canino, Thea Gagate, and Jolina Dela Cruz share their thoughts after bringing back the glory to La Salle. #UAAPSeason85 | via Lance Agcaoili
Posted by Inquirer Sports on Sunday, May 14, 2023
“There’s always pressure. But sinasabi ko lang sa sarili ko na huwag na isipin ‘yung nasa labas, but kung ano pa ang meron na ilalaban—yung goal—which is for us to be champions,” Canino said.
The Lady Spikers gained some measure of payback in the victory as they returned the favor to NU which swept them at this stage last year.
Save for the loss to University of Santo Tomas in the second round, La Salle was virtually untouched in this tournament.
And with how based on its new star’s pronouncement, La Salle is looking primed in rebuilding another dynasty.
“Syempre next dream is to makakuha uli ng championship sa UAAP. Heto yung biggest goal namin. ‘Di kami titigil dito,” Canino said.