By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers handed the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagles a sweeping loss, 25-16, 25-20, 25-12, during one of the most highly-anticipated UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball rivalry match last March 5, 2023.
Entering the matchup with boosting confidence after a 2-0 start, the Lady Spikers quickly pounced on the Blue Eagles to immediately grab the early lead in the first set.
DLSU’s super rookie Angel Canino picked up where she left off and dominated the Blue Eagles after finishing the game with 23 points built from 21 successful attacks alongside nine digs and five excellent receptions.
The athletic outside hitter proved that her offensive prowess was too much for Ateneo after attacking the Blue Eagles’ middle blockers at will.
Despite the defensive adjustments head coach Oliver Almadro deployed on Ateneo, Canino still piled up the points and challenged the opposing middle blockers as part of their game plan.
Ateneo showed some signs of life in the second set but veteran star Jolina Dela Cruz stepped up in the most crucial time midway through the match.
Dela Cruz put on a show and scored several drop balls that halted Ateneo’s run in the second set with two of them coming during the Lady Spikers’ last four possessions.
It was then all DLSU in the last set as the duo of Canino and Dela Cruz put Ateneo away for good after spearheading their hot start in the third.
“Hindi naman namin ina-ano kung nasa taas kami or what. Basta kami tuloy tuloy lang, one game at a time. Basta ang nireremind lang namin sa mga bata ‘wag ma-kumpyansa,” said DLSU head coach Noel Orcullo.
Dela Cruz contributed 13 points off 10 successful attacks, 11 excellent receptions, and three blocks while middle blocker Thea Gagate chipped in 10 points.
Meanwhile, the Blue Eagles got 11 markers from superstar Faith Nisperos but needed more help as all of her teammates failed to reach double-digit scoring.