One down, one more to go.
It only took La Salle an hour and 18 minutes to notch Game 1 of the UAAP Season 78 finals and get one step closer to its women’s volleyball team’s ninth title in the women’s division.
Though they looked vulnerable in the early goings of the first set, the Lady Spikers pulled through Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to pull-off the 25-22, 25-22, 25-21 victory to shock the defending champions.
From being down 1-7 in the opening frame, the Taft crew showcased character which became La Salle’s biggest advantage against the struggling Lady Eagles.
“Last time sinabi ko na lahat ng sets na nakukuha namin is down ‘yung kalaban. Malaking bagay sa amin ‘yung down kami at kumapit para manalo,” shared La Salle mentor Ramil de Jesus.
“Mas relaxed ‘yung mga bata kanina. Kahit na down kami nung first set, early timeout lang ako. Alam ko babalik ‘yung composure ng mga bata,” he added.
While the attack points of La Salle and Ateneo were close—41 to 37—the net defense of the Taft crew made a huge difference as the towering Lady Spikers converted 13 kills blocks to the Lady Eagles’ 2.
Opposite spiker Kim Dy once again weaved her magic against the defending champions by top scoring with 15 points, 11 of which came from kills, while Mika Reyes, Ara Galang and Majoy Baron combined for 33 big points.
Talking about the biggest reward of drawing first blood, De Jesus shares, “Napaka-importante nitong panalo na ito kasi bumalik ang tiwala ng bawat player ko. Napakahirap kasing makuha ‘yun eh lalo na kung ganitong back-to-back champions ‘yung makakalaban mo.”
The complete team effort of last year’s runners-up was in full display as Cyd Demecillo also contributed 6 points and 9 excellent reception while setter Kim Fajardo dished 39 excellent sets on top of her 5 markers.
La Salle’s inspired performance, De Jesus shares, could partially be attributed to the tough fight he and his wards went through in the semifinals against FEU.
“‘Yung game namin ng FEU nakatulong kasi all-out ka talaga sa laro na ‘yun kasi hindi pwedeng hindi,” he said.
Now a win away from avenging his back-to-back losses in Seasons 76 and 77, the coach breathed a sigh of relief and quipped, “Lahat naman ng teams pinapangarap ‘yun eh. Sana sa amin naman itong year na ito.” — By Mac Dionisio