UP and unforced errors, once again, get the best of Lady Spikers

The mantra coming into today’s match against the UP Lady Maroons was simple: avenge the team’s heartbreaking five-set loss from the first round. After the final whistle however, the DLSU Lady Spikers still could not solve the UP puzzle this Season 81, dropping a 16-25, 24-26, 19-25 decider at Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.

After committing 37 unforced miscues in their first round encounter, La Salle was once again shooting itself in the foot as the team registered 10 in the first set, 14 in the second, and 13 in the final frame. The 37 total, with 17 of which coming from the service line, not only gave free points to UP but also stymied whatever hopes of DLSU winning a single set.

The three-time defending champions started off the wrong foot in the opening frame, trailing 4-8 before transferee Lourdes Clemente made back-to-back hits to trim the lead at 6-8. UP would continue its assault behind hitters Tots Carlos and Isa Molde to take an 16-11 lead at the second technical timeout.

Benefitting from three straight La Salle errors, the Lady Maroons mounted their biggest lead of the game, 13-22, and never looked back as they took the first set after a hit from middle blocker Maristela Layug. Clemente was the sole highlight for the DLSU starters, scoring four of the team’s nine total set attacks while adding a single block.

Rookie Jolina dela Cruz and fellow starter May Luna were held scoreless in the first frame, while Tin Tiamzon could only contribute one point.

In typical La Salle fashion, the team raced to a quick 3-0 lead in the second set, and held on to lead from 8-6 up to the 17-12 mark. A couple of overreaching violations by Clemente together with inspired play by the Lady Maroons tied the set at 19-all. The tight finish actually had UP reaching set point first at 23-24 after another service error by Aduke Ogunsanya.

After Clemente tied things once more with a block, an error from the service area by dela Cruz was followed by a set-clinching hit from Jessma Ramos to give the Lady Maroons the two sets-to-none lead.

Down but not out, the Lady Spikers were still holding to a 17-16 lead deep in the third set before completely melting down in front of more than 6,200 spectators who trooped to Antipolo. UP would mount a 9-2 rally, holding La Salle without a single attack point as the two points credited to DLSU were from service errors.

Looking visibly fresher and with a full range of motion to her right shoulder, team captain Desiree Cheng came off the bench to lead all La Salle scorers with 11 points (eight attacks, two aces, one block). Clemente and dela Cruz finished with six points each, while Tiamzon added five.

Rookie setter Marrione Alba, subbing-in for the ineffective Michelle Cobb, provided quality minutes and registered three points, 12 excellent sets, and even nine excellent digs.

Starting setter Cobb and fellow veteran May Luna’s (zero points) production was hardly felt in the game that dropped the Lady Spikers to a 5-3 record; today’s loss created a four-way logjam in the standings with DLSU sharing the second to fifth places together with UST, FEU, and UP.

It’s a short turn-around for the defending champions as they face the young and hungry NU Lady Bulldogs on Wednesday, 4PM at the Filoil Flying V Center.

DLSU (0) – Cheng 11, Clemente 6, dela Cruz 6, Tiamzon 5, Instrella 3, Alba 3, Cobb 1, Ogunsanya 1, Luna 0, Ipac 0, Hatulan 0, Santos 0, Saga (L), Nomil (L)

UP (3) – Carlos 13, Molde 11, Bernardo 5, Dorog 4, Layug 3, Ramos 2, Estranero 1, Sotomil 0, Sandoval 0, Buitre 0, Gannaban 0, Rosier 0, Altomea (L), Bautista (L)