By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Spikers escaped the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in a grueling five-set affair, 25-20, 16-25, 25-8, 15-25, 16-14, during the weekend treat of the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball tournament last February 26, 2023, held at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
It was an exchange of dominant set wins for both retooled squads after trading offensive firepower from the get-go.
UST was the first to assert their dominance in the opening set after taking an early 12-3 lead but the Lady Spikers’ tremendous defensive adjustment helped them claw their way back and score a hard-earned 1-0 win.
After DLSU displayed its attack, UST responded with a bang led by veteran superstar hitter Eya Laure who scored in a variety of ways that caught the Lady Spikers’ middle blockers off guard.
Laure continued her scoring at the start of the third set but a counter-offensive snowball from the women in green helped them retake momentum and end the period in style.
Just when the Lady Spikers thought they already read UST’s offensive executions, the Lady Tigresses’ head tactician Kungfu Reyes had other plans and chose to rotate his players with hopes of finding a clutch spark to force a deciding fifth set.
His game plan then worked like magic after their bench mob was able to provide some electricity and energy that paved the way for Laure and the rest of the Lady Tigresses to take full control of the game and set up a final set showdown.
The fifth set put the crowd on their feet as both teams figured in a nip-and-tuck affair featuring a duel between DLSU’s young spiker Angel Canino and UST’s Laure.
However, the Lady Spikers got the job done and put the icing on the cake after Jolina Dela Cruz scored back-to-back points capped off by a Laure attack error to clinch their first win of the UAAP Season 85.
Canino top-scored the Lady Spikers with 18 big points alongside 11 excellent receptions while Dela Cruz opened their campaign with a 14-point output including 10 excellent receptions and 10 successful digs.
“Sobrang intense talaga. Yung nangyari breaks of the game eh, talagang kahit sino na lang doon. Sinwerte kami sa amin pumanig yung break,” said Lady Spikers acting head coach Noel Orcullo.