UAAP Volleyball: Unstoppable La Salle beats NU to end season 14-0

UNSTOPPABLE. Ara Galang of De La Salle University spikes a point home during a previous game. She top-scored Saturday's game with 15 points. Photo by Josh Abelda

UNSTOPPABLE. Ara Galang of De La Salle University spikes a point home during a previous game. She top-scored Saturday's game with 15 points.

Photo by Josh Abelda

MANILA, Philippines – De La Salle University wraps up the season with a historic elimination round sweep after halting National University 14-25, 26-24, 25-21, 25-20, in the 76th UAAP Women’s Volleyball tournament, Saturday, February 15 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Graduating Abi Marano emerged in the all-important matchup for La Salle as she scored 14 points off 11 attacks, two blocks, and an ace to lead her squad to their 30th straight UAAP win and their third season sweep in a decade.

The win sends La Salle to an automatic Finals slot with a huge thrice-to-beat advantage while second placers NU also earn themselves a twice-to-beat edge against the winner of the knockout match between Ateneo de Manila and either Far Eastern University or Adamson. 

The battle between the top two teams in the table lived up to its billing as both squads went up hard on each other in the opening frame but Dindin Santiago and Myla Pablo, wanting to avoid a stepladder playoff series, detonated an 11-2 bomb  that turned what was a close 7-8 deficit into a 25-14 first set win for the Lady Bulldogs.

The Lady Spikers got their bearings fixed in the second as they zoomed to an 8-1 start behind Kim Fajardo and Marano but the Lady Bulldogs came up with a comeback once more and cut their deficit to just four, 7-11. 

La Salle and NU then engaged in a hotly contested see-saw battle with Aiko Urdas tying the game at 24-all but the Lady Bulldogs collapsed under the pressure with Mina Aganon committing back-to-back errors to hand the Lady Spikers the second set, 26-24.

With her sister struggling in the third, it was Jaja Santiago who rose for NU as she lifts her team to a 12-3 lead but Marano and the rest of the Lady Spikers slowly chipped away the Lady Bulldogs lead to get back into the game at 18-all. 

Coach Ramil de Jesus’ girls then put on nerves of steel as they closed the pressure packed set 25-21 spurred by a remarkable third set comeback.

Knowing that they are just a set away from an outright Finals ticket, La Salle then hammered NU in the early goings of the fourth but the younger Santiago kept her team alive as the Lady Bulldogs pull within two, 19-21. La Salle, though, was already feeling it with Mika Reyes and Ara Galang delivering the finishing blows for a 25-20 set win.

La Salle, 62-3 in the past four seasons, finishes the eliminations with 14 wins against zero losses while NU settles for second with a 12-2 card.

Ara Galang top-scored in the game with 15 points for the Lady Spikers as Reyes finished with 11. Fajardo and Cyd Demecillo also pitched in for La Salle scoring seven apiece. 

NU, meanwhile, was led by the Santiago sisters with Jaja copping 14 and Dindin finishing with 13 markers. 

UST ends Season 76 with shock win over Adamson

MANILA, Philippines – After struggling for most of the season, University of Santo Tomas salvaged some pride for themselves after upsetting Adamson University in four sets, 25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 25-15 in the 76th UAAP Women’s Volleyball tournament, Saturday, February 15 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

The Golden Tigresses snap out of a three-game losing skid and improves their record to 5-9 as four of their players ended up in double digit scoring this afternoon but the win comes a little too late as they have already crashed out of the playoffs race.

Adamson, on the other hand, falls back to fifth place at 6-8 and will hope for a Far Eastern University loss against Ateneo de Manila tomorrow, February 16, to force a do-or-die playoff for the last Final Four slot. 

Pam Lastimosa and Carmela Tunay put on an inspired performance in their last game this season as they tallied in 18 and 17 markers respectively amidst a gallant stand by the Lady Falcons.

Playing with nothing to lose, the coach Odjie Mamon’s squad started the game relying on their frontline as they cruised to a 16-11 opening set lead but Sheila Pineda, who has been searing hot for Adamson especially in the second round, towed her squad back into the game and evened the scoring at 23 apiece.

However, UST was able to keep its composure as Loren Lantin and Tunay delivered back-to-back cold-blooded hits that ended the set in their favor, 25-23.

The Espana-based squad’s gamble to take the game near the net proved to be effective as they blocked Adamson seven times in the following set alone that helped them grab a two-set lead via a 25-18 second frame win. 

Seeing their chances of making it to the playoffs dimming, Adamson got off to a last-gasp effort in the third as they turned a 4-point deficit around and fought UST in an intense third set to pull one back, 25-23, behind the heroics of Mayette Zapanta.

Adamson’s tough schedule in the past couple of weeks – which saw them go up against three title contenders in Ateneo, FEU, and National University – took its toll in the fourth as they simply lost grip of the game and let UST run away with an easy 15-11 fourth set victory.

Adding 14 points for UST is Chloe Cortez while Marivic Meneses contributed 11. Pineda was at her usual deadly form today as she scored a game-high 21 markers with Zapanta pitching in 13 but it was not enough as the Tigresses poured in a whopping 19 points off the blocks. -