De La Salle University’s excellence in women’s volleyball took another leap as the Lady Spikers cruised past University of the East (UE), 25-16, 25-15, 25-9, on Saturday to secure their ninth straight Final Four appearance in Season 79 of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan City.
La Salle made quick work of the Lady Warriors, who simply had no answers to the Lady Spikers’ balanced scoring resulting from head coach Ramil de Jesus having the luxury of his three stringers including rookie Gyra Barroga.
“It’s important because it gives me an idea of my rotation and what adjustments should be made,” said de Jesus on facing a lowly team like UE, which dropped to 1-10.
“Our target is really the top two to get the twice to beat advantage. Hopefully it continues against our next game (against University of Santo Tomas),” he added.
La Salle’s win allowed the Taft-based team to tie archrival Ateneo de Manila University at 9-2, and the Lady Spikers just need to beat the Tigresses on Wednesday to clinch the bonus in the Final Four round.
“It will be a tough game. UST is fighting for a Final Four spot. Every game, that team is improving so we have to prepare hard,” de Jesus said.
Desiree Cheng led La Salle’s balanced scoring with 10 points; nine on attacks while Kim Fajardo and Majoy Baron each had nine. Fajardo also had 31 of the 33 excellent sets of the Lady Spikers.
No UE player managed to hit double figures with team captain Shaya Adorador finishing with a team-high six points.
In the men’s side, National University (NU) upended La Salle in five thrilling sets, 25-23, 19-25, 25-15, 20-25, 16-14, to secure the twice-to-beat advantage in the Final Four round.
Bryan Baguinas fired 21 points on 18 attacks to lead the Bulldogs, who improved to 10-1, and more importantly secured the bonus in the next round.
It was a tough break for the Green Spikers, who dropped to 4-7 and are on the brink of missing the next round.
UST also survived a five-set contest, pulling off a 25-21, 25-21, 20-25, 18-25, 15-11 win to boost its Final Four chances with a 5-6 slate. The Growling Tigers tied their victims at No. 4.
In the second game, UST bounced back from the opening set loss and turned back Far Eastern University (FEU), 17-25, 25-17, 26-24, 25-21, to tie NU at third spot with 7-4 win-loss mark.
The Tigresses wasted five match points before EJ Laure decided to end the drought with an attack sending the Lady Tamaraws to the bottom four with a 5-6 slate.
Laure led UST with 20 points, 19 on attacks while Cherry Ann Rondina chipped in 15 for the wards of head coach Kungfu Reyes, who expressed her dissatisfaction with how they finished the match.
“We lost five (match) points. We need to play a team game,” said Reyes. “We’re 70 to 75 percent right now and hopefully we reach 80 percent in our last three games.”
It was a tough loss for the Lady Tamaraws, who after taking the first set stumbled in the next three to see their Final Four hopes fading away.