On Mother’s Day, La Salle Lady Spikers become new UAAP volleyball queens
Down two sets, La Salle dug into its seemingly bottomless pit of courage and resolve to put a glorious end to a UAAP women’s volleyball season that started with the Lady Spikers way out of the championship radar.
And with Rookie-Most Valuable Player (MVP) Angel Canino and a towering, now-grizzled supporting cast to be back next year, the Lady Spikers have started what could be a long reign as queens.
The Lady Spikers played relentlessly on both ends before an animated, screaming crowd of more than 20,000, pulling out a 19-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-17, 15-10 victory that dethroned National University (NU) as La Salle won its first title since 2018.
“What we want is to win this again next year,” Canino, who finished with 19 points on a day she accepted her Rookie of the Year and MVP trophies, said during the din of the celebration where she thanked the La Salle faithful that came in a sea of green. “We worked so hard for this the entire season.”
The Lady Bulldogs looked like they were on the way forging a deciding Game 3 after taking all the best that La Salle could offer in the first two sets. But National U looked like it stopped playing in the third and fourth periods, with even its coach not calling a timeout at the height of a La Salle surge in the third.
And like what happened in Game 1, the Lady Spikers were in their element in the final set as Thea Gagate became a two-way force and ignited pandemonium in the stands with the championship-winning point that had all La Salle players crying with joy after .
“The players really wanted to end it today,” assistant coach Noel Orcullo said in Filipino. “Even when we were down, they were ready to bleed just to win this game.
“Winning in this fashion—when you work so hard for it—is much more special.”
It was the 12th title for the Taft-based university, doing it by losing just one game all season—against eventual fourth placer University of Santo Tomas in the second round of the eliminations.
WATCH: Mars Alba, Angel Canino, Thea Gagate, and Jolina Dela Cruz share their thoughts after bringing back the glory to La Salle. #UAAPSeason85 | via Lance Agcaoili
Posted by Inquirer Sports on Sunday, May 14, 2023
Career high to naught
Mars Alba, later adjudged the Finals MVP, had 16 excellent sets in orchestrating the La Salle offense. She also finished with three points.
Despite Alyssa Solomon’s career-high 34 points built around 31 kills, the Lady Bulldogs fell for the second straight game because no one really stepped up to back her up.
Bella Belen, whose record Rookie-MVP season last year was duplicated by old high school rival Canino, was held to just 11 points on 10-of-40 attacks, while Vange Alinsug only contributed seven points.
The absence of Sheena Toring, who was unable to play due to a partial ACL tear in her left knee sustained in Game 1, added to NU’s woes.
La Salle grilled NU in all four games this season, reversing last year’s scenario when the Lady Bulldogs were the ones who didn’t lose a match against the Lady Spikers—and the entire field—on the way to snapping a 65-year title drought .
And with that reign over after just one year, it seems that, with a relatively intact lineup led by a rookie-MVP that went unchecked all season, the Lady Spikers have a lot going for them.
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