DLSU DLSU’s Alleiah Malaluan tries to keep the ball in play as her teammate Em Provido looks on. UAAP photo

La Salle in fiery start

February 18, 2024 Theodore P. Jurado 155 views

CAPITALIZING its tremendous height advantage, defending champion La Salle overwhelmed Adamson, 25-16, 25-16, 25-18, for a winning start in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament last night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

It was coach Ramil de Jesus’ 300th victory in his 27 years steering the Lady Spikers, who are gunning for a 13th championship overall.

“Hindi ko binibilang iyon. Pero yung sa 27 years ko sa La Salle, siguro umabot na nga doon,” said De Jesus. “Happy ako kasi umabot ako ng ganoong karaming panalo na hindi ko naman iniisip na makakarating sa ganoon.

“Para sa akin, mabigyan ng magandang kondisyon at performance yung mga bata ay sapat na iyon,” the decorated mentor added.

“Amazing,” said reigning MVP Angel Canino, who led the Lady Spikers with 14 points, including three blocks. “Sobrang natutuwa po ako kasi part po kami noon. Hopefully more wins to come.”

Shevana Laput was the other La Salle player in double digits with 11 points, including three blocks. Em Provido and Thea Gagate each had eight points.

University of the East, ushering a new era with prized blue-chip recruits and a revitalized program, ended a 21-match losing skid to Ateneo with a 20-25, 25-18, 25-23, 25-18 victory
It was the Lady Warriors’ first win over the Blue Eagles since pulling off a 12-25, 25-20, 25-21, 13-25, 15-13 first round victory on Dec. 5, 2010.

Rookie Casiey Dongallo, a product of highly-regarded California Academy program, debuted with 27 points and eight digs to lead UE, which ended in last place last year, to a rare opening day win.

“First of all po, I’m just thankful for my teammates kasi I cannot have naman 27 points without them eh. So I’m just happy na parang nung time na kinakabahan ako, nandun sila, hindi nila ako pinabayaan na bumaba yung laro ko,” said Dongallo.

Riza Nogales scored 13 points built on nine attacks and four blocks, Kayce Balingit added 12 points, seven digs and seven receptions, while setter Kizzie Madriaga lobbed 16 excellent sets for the Lady Warriors.

UE has a combined 2-24 record in the last two seasons, and under new coach Jerry Yee, things are looking in the right direction.

“I’m very excited. The reason why we came to UE is to make history and this is part of it. The rest is gonna be a process po, it’s gonna take a while. It’s a new system that we brought into UE, so we’re working really hard po. We’re happy with the win but we have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Lady Warriors assistant coach Obet Vital.

A product of UE high school product, libero Ange Reyes is determined to help the Lady Warriors turn around by trusting the process.

“Ang mapo-promise po namin is gagawin po namin yung best namin at yung makakaya namin,” said Reyes.

“Kasi ako, simula noong nag-high school, and heto na noong pumasok ako noong college, parang iyon nga po, kung hindi last, second to the last. So ngayon sa bagong system, nagtitiwala kami sa progress. Kinu-continue namin, naniniwala kami sa system. Kailangan pong gawin ng tama,” she added.

“Ang sinasabi ni doc (Vital) lagi na maniwala lang kami sa kanila. Maniwala lang kami sa sistema. Kasi kung hindi namin gagawin iyon, siguro hindi kami ganitong katibay and hindi kami kabuo.”

In the men’s division, Ateneo repulsed UE, 25-16, 22-25, 25-15, 25-14, while La Salle also kicked off its campaign on a winning note with a close 25-22, 25-23, 26-24 sweep of Adamson.

Ken Batas had 22 points, including two blocks, Jian Salarzon also had two blocks for a 15-point outing and tallied 11 receptions while Nigeria’s Aimar Okeke debuted with 11 points and five digs for the Blue Eagles.

“Well, first we’re very excited since we’re playing first, and also at the same time, we’re a bit scared because we might have first-game jitters,” said Ateneo coach Timmy Sto. Tomas. “Hopefully, we can get more prepared in our next few games so that we won’t be able to feel any more jitters,” he added.

Noel Kampton led the Green Spikers with 19 points, including two blocks and two service aces, seven digs and seven receptions while JM Ronquillo added 18 points, including the match winner.

Lyann de Guzman paced the Blue Eagles with 19 points and 16 digs while rookie JLo delos Santos added 12 points, including two blocks and two service aces.