Rookie Soyud lights up as La Salle survives UP threat

MANILA, Philippines – Backed by rookie hitter Christine Soyud, the De La Salle Lady Spikers rejected the UP Lady Maroons’ upset hopes with a 4-set 25-27, 25-20, 25-23, 25-10 victory in the UAAP Season 77 women's volleyball tournament on Sunday, January 25 at the FilOil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

The 5-foot-10 Soyud, a product of Doña Hortencia Salas Benedicto National High School, was on-point from everywhere on the floor for a struggling La Salle as she topscored with 16 points on 13 kills and a pair of service aces. 

She was the Lady Spikers’ answer to a streaking Lady Maroons who were fearless in taking a 27-25 first set win over the 3-time champions and last year’s finalists.

Ara Galang contributed 14 markers while Mary Joy Baron added 13 points for the Taft-based squad who improved to 8-1. Mika Reyes and Kim Fajardo each registered 8 points.

UP carried its high momentum to the second set, where they were toe to toe with La Salle, even tying the count at 19-all.

But straight rejections from the towering La Salle wall at the net created some much-needed separation, 22-19, from the dangerous Diliman crew which ultimately led to a comfortable 25-20 win.

It was a similarly close, nip and tuck affair in the third after the Lady Maroons battled back late as Nicole Tiamzon leveled the score at 22 on a drop ball. 

Soyud scored on a service ace to give the Lady Spikers set point but Tiamzon, who had 14 points for the Lady Maroons, did not give away the set easily as she delivered on a powerful kill. But Carol Cerveza, who chipped in 9 points for La Salle, wrapped things up with a sturdy block.

UP, which showed grit and composure in the midst of tremendous pressure in previous sets, had all but deflated come the fourth as La Salle overpowered them with a 25-10 decimation.

The Lady Maroons, who slid to 4-5, got 15 points from veteran Angeli Araneta, and 13 points from Vina Alinas. –