By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE defending champions De La Salle Lady Spikers made it 2-of-2 over rivals Ateneo Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 80 after beating the latter in three sets on the final day of elimination play on Sunday at the Mall of Asia that also completed for the Taft-based residents a sweep of the second round.
Displaying the go-getting mind-set that has been on display for much of the ongoing University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) season, the Lady Spikers took everything that the Lady Eagles could muster and just stood dominant to claim the victory, 26-24, 25-17 and 25-19.
The win pushed La Salle to a 12-2 record, tops heading into the Final Four where it will enjoy a twice-to-beat edge.
Earlier in the day, the Far Eastern University (FEU) Lady Tamaraws chalked up their 10th win of the season, and in the process booked the number two seed heading into the playoffs and earning a twice-to-beat advantage, after beating the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs in four sets, 25-21, 25-22, 16-25 and 25-20.
The final game of the elimination round got off to a very competitive to the delight of the jam-packed arena.
Both teams went on their respective runs and fought to a 24-all count as the Lady Eagles charged back to extend the opening set.
Reigning most valuable player Majoy Baron and the rest of the Lady Spikers though would stand their ground in the extension to go up, 1-0.
In the second set, La Salle continued to crank up its level of play, racing to a 16-9 advantage by the second technical timeout.
The Lady Eagles tried hard to rally back but no such thing was to happen with the Lady Spikers clicking on both ends of the attack to bury Ateneo further, 2-0.
Ateneo would do a better job at the start of the third frame, claiming an 8-7 lead by the first technical break as Kat Tolentino and Jhoanna Maraguinot made their presence felt.
The Lady Eagles extended their lead to 12-8 before the Lady Spikers shoot their way back to tie the score at 14-all.
La Salle completed the comeback by the second technical timeout, holding a 16-15 advantage.
Regaining the momentum, the Lady Spikers did not waste any time going for the jugular.
They outscored Ateneo, 9-4, the rest of the way to complete the sweep.
Kim Kianna Dy led La Salle with 13 points followed by Desiree Cheng with 12 and Tin Tiamzon 11.
Tolentino, meanwhile, paced Ateneo with 15 points while Maddie Madayag had eight markers.
“We’re happy with the win. This gives us a lot of confidence heading into the semifinals,” said La Salle coach Ramil De Jesus.
LADY TAMARAWS AT 2
Meanwhile, in the first game, FEU made sure it put itself in good position for a shot at finishing in the top two by topping NU.
The Morayta-based Lady Tamaraws proved to be a tough nut to crack for the Lady Bulldogs in the first two sets, racing to a 2-0 lead for the game.
NU got to break through in the third set, using a strong finishing kick to narrow the gap at 2-1.
But the Lady Tamaraws would seal the deal in the fourth frame, breaking from a back-and-forth with the Lady Bulldogs late in the set and never looking back.
Graduating Bernadeth Pons led FEU with 17 points with Celine Domingo adding 12.
Chin-Chin Basas had nine markers while Net Villareal finished with eight points.
Jaja Santiago had 21 points for NU with Jorelle Singh adding 10.
“Hopefully we could build on this win. We are already near the top and I told the players not to stop fighting,” said winning coach George Pascua at the postgame press conference.
After the elimination round smoke cleared, La Salle finished at the top of standings, followed by FEU (10-4), Ateneo (9-5) and NU (7-7).
La Salle takes on NU in the Final Four with FEU battling Ateneo.
The semifinals of UAAP Season 80 begin on Saturday, April 21.