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MANILA, Philippines – For the 20th time in UAAP history, the La Salle Lady Spikers are marching on to the women’s volleyball finals after eliminating the UST Golden Tigresses, 26-24, 25-22, 20-25, 25-19, at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, May 3.
Angel Canino showed no jitters in her first seniors Final Four game and led the way with 19 points and 10 excellent digs, while Justine Jazareno put her body on the line with 22 excellent digs and 16 excellent receptions.
Jolina dela Cruz also added 10 points and 6 excellent receptions, while Leiah Malaluan and Thea Gagate scored 9 each.
Seething from a third-set setback after going down by as many as 9, 10-19, La Salle turned a 7-5 lead in the fourth to a 14-7 separation off a 7-2 run, capped with a Malaluan crosscourt kill.
This was all the breathing room the longtime contenders needed as they peaked with a 22-14 gap off an Eya Laure service error, before Gagate arrested a small UST fightback with a game-winning block point to seal the deal.
“We’re happy because we redeemed our second-round loss to UST, so now, we’re in the finals. But this is not done,” said La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo in Filipino. “We still need to train, improve, and find what’s missing. Anyway, we’re happy with the win.”
After an airtight opening set and a back-and-forth second frame, La Salle created a small breathing window after a 3-0 run for a 23-19 lead, capped by a Jolina dela Cruz ace and sparked by an all-out defensive effort by Jazareno.
Although UST got within two, 22-24, off a Gagate service error and a Jonna Perdido kill, Milena Alessandrini then gifted the commanding two-set lead to the Lady Spikers after her serve sailed long, with the subsequent challenge clearly showing the ball out of bounds.
UST, however, fought back with a huge third-set rally, before ultimately faltering in the fourth.
Laure ended her MVP-caliber season with 15 points in the loss, while graduating spiker Alessandrini ended her collegiate career with 8 points.
La Salle now awaits the winner of the No. 2 vs. No. 3 match between twice-to-beat defending champion NU Lady Bulldogs and new contender Adamson Lady Falcons. – Rappler.com