DLSU NU’s Mhicaela Belen gave DLSU’s Thea Gagate a staredown during Game 1 of the UAAP women’s volleyball Finals yesterday. UAAP photo

La Salle draws first blood

May 8, 2023 Theodore P. Jurado 356 views

LA SALLE reasserted its mastery of National University, 18-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13, to move on the cusp of annexing its first title in five years in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament last night before 7,677 fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Lady Bulldogs lost Sheena Toring, who fell down on the floor and hurt her left knee after landing on Thea Gagate’s foot with the defending champions trailing, 12-13.

Rookie Angel Canino then scored a kill – her 21st point of the match – to put the Lady Spikers at 14-12.

Reigning MVP Mhicaela Belen then saved a match point before Minerva Maaya, who replaced the injured Toring, had her attack in the middle failed to cross the net, allowing La Salle to escape with the series opening victory.

The Lady Spikers go for their 12th championship and the first since 2018 in Game 2 slated at 4 p.m. on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

In the men’s division, University of Santo Tomas secured its first Finals appearance in 11 years as it blanked Far Eastern University, 25-18, 25-22, 25-21, to forge a best-of-three championship clash against three-peat seeking NU.

The Golden Spikers and the Bulldogs meet for the first time in the league’s biggest stage in the Final Four in the opener at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Gagate had four blocks for a 17-point effort while Shevana Laput chipped in seven points for the Lady Spikers. Jolina dela Cruz had six points, 13 receptions and eight digs while setter Mars Alba and Alleiah Malaluan also scored six points apiece.

Alyssa Solomon had 28 points, including two blocks, while Belen contributed 22 points, 14 receptions and 12 digs for NU.

Gboy de Vega was solid for UST with 16 points on 14-of-29 attacks while Josh Ybañez chipped in 15 points, including the match winner, and 13 receptions.

“We’re more than happy kasi after 11 long years nakabalik ng Finals yung UST. Big thank you sa lahat ng alumni kasi isa sila sa naging factor kung bakit kami naging united this game. They shared knowledge, yung mga experiences nila before nung nag champion sila dati at isinapuso lang namin yun, naniwala kami sa lahat ng turo nila,” said De Vega.

Rainier Flor tallied three of the Golden Spikers’ six blocks for a 11-point outing while Emman Dedoroy also logged 11 points.

Assistant coach Ben Mape, who continued to fill in for head mentor Odjie Mamon who was currently with the national team for the 32nd Cambodia Southeast Asian Games, was satisfied that UST was able to follow its gameplan in the second step-ladder to the letter.

“Naging advantage sa amin yung long preparation kasi napag-aralan namin yung positioning nila and at the same time napag-aralan din namin yung weaknesses namin, naging strength namin yun,” said Mape.

Mark Calado led the Tamaraws with 12 points while Jelord Talisayan had two blocks to finish with six points.

Game Wednesday

(Mall of Asia Arena)
2 p.m. – NU vs UST (Men/Finals)