MANILA, Philippines – For the entirety of last season’s UAAP women’s volleyball tournament, the NU Lady Bulldogs consistently had the La Salle Lady Spikers’ number, and in convincing fashion, too, as the stars of Sampaloc never let up a single set to the Taft-based spikers in four games.
Enter the Shakey’s Super League preseason in late 2022, the story remained the same as NU clinched the championship off another sweep of La Salle, which at that point already fielded super rookie Angel Canino getting her feet wet in the seniors division.
That lone losing experience was enough for the pride of Bacolod to get fired up and bring her A-game the next time the two teams meet. When the day finally came, Canino and the rest of the Lady Spikers certainly did not disappoint, pummeling the Lady Bulldogs in a shocking 25-10, 25-15, 25-21 rout at the end of the UAAP Season 85 first round.
“Like what I said in the preseason game where we faced them, the real battle has not begun,” Canino said in Filipino. “Now that real battle is done and we won.”
“We showed them who we really are, what we can do, and we pushed ourselves as a team and individuals that this is what we can do. This is who we are as Lady Spikers,” continued Canino, who led all scorers with 14 points.
The “real” Lady Spikers were indeed a fearsome bunch, as they set the tone in the stunning first-set rout with two separate 8-0 runs coming off multiple quick attacks, aces, and a surprising sprinkling of NU unforced errors.
When the dust settled, the best the Lady Bulldogs could do was a late rally in the third set before the Lady Spikers again pulled away to mercifully seal the deal.
Although Canino led the scoring barrage, she did not leave out the rest of her teammates, who also had stellar outings like captain Mars Alba’s 20 excellent sets and Fifi Sharma’s 12-point contribution, mostly coming in the pullaway second set.
“It’s not just me. All of us helped one another inside the court. It’s not just because of me that we won,” Canino continued. “We just stuck to the game plan and system, and that’s the result.”
With NU now out of the way along with the rest of the league’s teams, the question can now be asked: Who can realistically solve this new La Salle puzzle come the second round and eventually, the Final Four?
The Lady Spikers will surely welcome all comers as their second round kicks off this Saturday, March 25, with a 5 pm assignment, intriguingly against the Lady Bulldogs once again. – Rappler.com
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