After first loss, La Salle rebounds with UP sweep
La Salle was already a formidable force at the net with the towering Thea Gagate often leaving opponents in tatters. Shevana Laput’s improvement will only add to the firepower of the Lady Spikers.
The 6-foot-2 opposite hitter provided a glimpse of how much potential that is there to unlock when she provided an extra option for La Salle in an emphatic 25-15, 25-16, 25-16 victory on Sunday that dwarfed the University of the Philippines (UP) Lady Maroons in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball.
“It feels great. It means I improved and developed as a player. The coaches trust my abilities to play in the first six,” said the Filipino-Australian Laput, whose brother James played for the La Salle Green Archers in UAAP basketball and Magnolia in the Philippine Basketball Association.
Laput’s presence at the net can certainly strengthen the Lady Spikers in the middle after they got a wakeup call in a harrowing defeat to University of Santo Tomas Tigresses prior to a long Lenten break.
Though she briefly saw first action in the first round also against UP, Laput shared the defensive chores with the 6-foot-2 Gagate and Fifi Sharma with efficiency at PhilSports Arena this time, scoring nine points and forcing the Lady Maroons to alter their attack plan.
“We expected her (Laput) to deliver. We focused on her during the holy week [break]. She has to build confidence going into the end of the second round,” said La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo after their bounce back win that secured them a sure Final Four trip.
“When the semifinals come and in case we reach the finals, her level of confidence would be already high and she can deliver every time we field her in,” added Orcullo.
Rookie Angel Canino was all over La Salle’s floor, scoring 17 points on 13 attacks and had two blocks and a pair of aces as the Lady Spikers, now at 10-1, put the ignominy of their first setback of the season against the Tigresses behind .
Gagate likewise imposed her length along with Laput and finished with 11 points while Mars Alba orchestrated their fluid offense with 15 excellent sets.
“My father told me that I did great, but he said there’s so much room for improvement and to always keep that mentality in mind,” said Laput.
Up next for the Lady Spikers are the Adamson Lady Falcons on Wednesday before wrapping up the second round against the also-ran Ateneo Blue Eagles on April 23 and winless University of the East Lady Warriors on April 29.
With the Lady Falcons remaining as the biggest stumbling block, the Lady Spikers could automatically seize the No. 1 spot going into the Final Four along with the twice-to-beat advantage that goes with it.
Locked in a three-way tie at second place behind La Salle are the Tigresses, Lady Falcons and the National University Lady Bulldogs, who prevailed earlier, 25-21, 25-14, 25-23, and moved up to 8-3 after feasting on Far Eastern University’s assortment of errors in critical moments.
“We continue to chase that twice-to-beat, but we are doing it one game at a time. We don’t want to look far ahead, let’s finish the second round first,” said Orcullo. INQ
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