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MANILA, Philippines – The La Salle Lady Spikers found no trouble ending their UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball elimination round on a high note as they blasted the UE Lady Warriors, 25-17, 25-20, 25-17, at the FilOil EcoOil Centre on Saturday, April 29.
La Salle, already assured of the top seed and twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs, ended with a 13-1 record – the Lady Spikers’ best elimination round finish since Season 76 in 2014 where they went 14-0. UE, meanwhile, finished with a 1-13 slate for the second year in a row.
Runaway Rookie of the Year candidate Angel Canino led the balanced attack with 13 points off 9 attacks, 2 blocks, and 2 aces, while Jolina dela Cruz added 8 points and 7 excellent digs.
The story of the game, however, was former super rookie Leiah Malaluan, who tallied a season-high 6 points on her longest court time yet since coming back from injury, while Thea Gagate also scored 6 in a supporting role.
As many may have expected, the first two sets went by without surprises as La Salle quickly mounted a two-set separation, before UE gave some semblance of a fight with a 9-6 start in the third.
The Lady Spikers, however, quickly shut down any upset ideas forming in the minds of their opponents as they rode a huge 13-3 swing to mount a 19-12 lead off a Gagate ace, and never looked back.
Canino added one more ace to her tally to peak with an 8-point lead, 23-15, before reserve Amie Provido scored an ace of her own a bit later to complete La Salle’s smooth cruise to the finish line.
“UE won’t lose anything this game and they will really go all out, so we couldn’t afford to relax,” said La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo in Filipino.
“We just told them to prepare for the upcoming semifinals because we must also go all-out in our last game. Once the semis roll around, we still need to play at a high level and that cannot dip at all.”
Promising UE spiker KC Cepada led all scorers in the loss with 16 points off 15 attacks, while fellow upstart Van Bangayan scored 10.
La Salle now awaits the fate of the third and fourth seeds and will either face the Adamson Lady Falcons or UST Golden Tigresses in the semifinals. – Rappler.com