MANILA, Philippines – For De La Salle University superstar Cha Cruz, it’s about going out with a bang.
And with the Lady Spikers on the verge of bagging yet another crown, expect the Taft-based squad to go for the kill against Ateneo de Manila University in Game 3 of the 74th UAAP women’s volleyball finals series Wednesday afternoon at the Fil Oil Flying V Arena.
Possibly playing in her last game for La Salle, Cruz said that she will go “all out, all heart” to help the Lady Spikers end the Lady Eagles’ championship hopes and bring home the trophy for the third time in four years before another huge crowd in San Juan.
“Last game ko na eh, might as well do everything for it (the championship),” the five-year veteran told Rappler.com. “We will be more focused and determined. If they want yabang, we will play with much more yabang.”
But Cruz will not be alone in leading La Salle’s attack, especially now with the rise of Rookie of the Year Ara Galang and fellow freshman Mika Reyes, two rookies who have been the most consistent performers in the finals.
Galang, who was also named the year’s Best Server, has normed 13 points per game while the six-foot Reyes has delivered lightning-quick middle hits that the Ateneo defense could not figure out, to average 11 points in the series.
Season 74 Best Blocker Michelle Gumabao has also shone bright for the Lady Spikers, asserting her might with a combination of brute force and attitude in spearheading the La Salle wall that blocked 12 Lady Eagles’ shots in Game 3.
To make things worse for Ateneo, league Most Valuable Player Abi Maraño had her worst scoring performance of the tournament in Game 2 and is tipped to bounce back even as Cruz still tries to find her elimination round form.
That gives the Lady Spikers a five-pronged attack that would give Coach Roger Gorayeb headaches on planning who to stop when the teams collide tomorrow.
Eagles not going down fast
The Lady Eagles, however, have proven that they have what it takes to handle their archrivals, which they proved in the series opener, when they beat La Salle in four sets.
Riding on this momentum, the Katipunan-based squad seemed on the brink of pulling off another upset but a third-set meltdown followed by a lethargic fourth frame doomed the hopes of the Ateneo faithful.
Holding set point at 24-22, the Lady Eagles allowed Reyes to string together three straight points off a middle attack and a couple of aces as the Lady Spikers completed the monumental comeback that turned the game around.
Rookie sensation Alyssa Valdez will again look to carry the fight for Ateneo after posting 23.5 points in the first two games but will need more support from the rest of the Lady Eagles to extend the series to a winner-take-all match on Saturday.
Skipper Fille Cainglet only managed to finish with 13 markers in Game 2 after erupting for 19 in the opener while Dzi Gervacio struggled for 10. – Rappler.com