La Salle out to end UAAP bid in blaze of glory
LADY SPIKERS GO FOR JUGULAR
De La Salle University will try to pen a fitting ending to its roller-coaster season when it clashes with rival Ateneo de Manila University in Game 2 of their University Athletic Association of the Philippines women’s volleyball tournament best-of-three finals showdown today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Action erupts at 4 p.m. following Game 2 of the best-of-three finals showdown in the men’s division between Ateneo and National University set at 12 noon.
After falling short in the past two years, the Lady Spikers marched into the tourney as heavy favorites for parading an intact lineup and gaining massive experience in the club level via the Philippine Superliga.
But the Lady Spikers suffered some major roadblocks down the stretch of the double-round eliminations as the Lady Eagles came up with an emphatic five-set win, pushing La Salle to the second spot in the Final Four.
In the semis, La Salle suffered another five-set humiliation from the hands of hungry Far Eastern University before restoring order with a straight-set win to marched into the finals against the Lady Eagles oozing with confidence.
True enough, the Lady Spikers played like a runaway train in Game 1 as they choked the reigning champions with their suffocating defense on the net on top of relentless attacks that threw the Lady Eagles off their comfort zone, leading to a 25-22, 25-22, 25-21 victory.
La Salle tallied a total of 13 blocks while Ateneo had only two.
Middle spiker Mika Reyes vowed to come up with another scintillating performance to finally bring the crown back to Taft campus before she graduates together with setter Kim Fajardo, Ara Galang, Carol Cerveza, Mika Esperanza and Cyd Demecillo.
“We will do our best,” said Reyes, who tallied six out her 13 points in the blocks department.
But running away with the crown will not be cakewalk for the Lady Spikers.
Led by newly-crowned Most Valuable Player (MVP) Alyssa Valdez, the Lady Eagles are tipped to come up with a bounce-back performance to thwart their rivals’ march to the throne.
Valdez, who is set to match Far Eastern University legend Monica Aleta as the league’s only three-time MVP, said they will go back to the things that made them successful in the past.
“Our mindset is to go back to where we believe in,” she said. “We have to believe in our teammates, coaches and the system. We just have to go back to playing happy, united and heart strong.”
Valdez added that winning the title will cap her magical collegiate career, which saw her winning two titles, two MVP plums and a rare chance to become the flag-bearer of the Philippine Team in the 28th Southeast Asian Games in Singapore last year.
“We really have to give our strongest heart this time.”
Aside from Valdez, the Lady Eagles will also draw strength from Jhoanna Maraguinot, Amy Ahomiro, Bea de Leon and Kim Gequillana while setter Jia Morado is expected to see action despite sustaining a shoulder injury in Game 1.