By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers remained the only undefeated team in the ongoing UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament.
DLSU extended its dominant winning streak to four-straight victories after sweeping the University of the East (UE), 25-20, 25-21, 25-14, last March 8, 2023, held at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Superstar middle blocker Thea Gagate was efficient on both ends of the floor and delivered 13 points built from eight successful attacks and five blocks.
It was the towering young star who provided the spark during the first set when UE inched close after several offensive back hits that went past DLSU’s tall wall of defense.
Gagate swatted a crucial hit from UE which was followed by three-straight points to help them avert an early 0-1 deficit against an underperforming team that is hungry to get their first win of the tournament.
UE showed more heart and grit in the second set after answering every DLSU offensive set but once again, Gagate and the rest of the middle blockers stepped up in the most perfect time to clinch a 2-0 cushion.
It was in the third and last set when super rookie Angel Canino started to take over, punishing UE’s defense while also helping in the floor defense department.
Canino backstopped Gagate and contributed 10 points, eight excellent receptions, and seven digs while veteran Jolina Dela Cruz chipped in nine markers.
“Actually, we started slow. Masyado kaming nagkampante. First two sets parang sinasabayan lang yung laro ng kalaban so hindi kami nagstick doon sa game plan namin,” said DLSU head coach Noel Orcullo.
The Lady Spikers will look to protect their winning streak on March 11, 2023, when they face the rolling Far Eastern University (FEU) team.
Meanwhile, UE is yet to enter the season’s winning column and will have the chance to do so against the defending champions National University (NU) on March 12, 2023.