La Salle gets back at UST to book return trip to the UAAP Finals

De La Salle University made its second consecutive finals appearance after fending off University of Sto. Tomas, 26-24, 25-22, 20-25, 25-19 in the UAAP Season 85 Women’s Volleyball Final Four before 6,694 fans at the SMART Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday.

Super rookie Angel Canino, who is one of the leading contenders in the MVP race, posted a game-high 19 points on 18 attacks to go along with 10 excellent digs, helping the Lady Spikers make their 20th finals appearance in the UAAP.

Canino delivered back-to-back attacks, giving the Taft-based spikers a comfortable 21-13 advantage in the fourth set.

The Golden Tigresses made a last-ditch attempt to save their season with Milena Alessandrini and Imee Hernandez igniting a 3-0 spurt that eventually trimmed the lead to five, 19-24.

Unfortunately, that proved to be it for UST. Alleiah Malaluan scored through the block to push her side at match point before Thea Gagate blocked Alessandrini, propelling the Lady Spikers to the finals where they will face the winner of the National University-Adamson University Final Four matchup.

“Happy dahil ayun nga, na-redeem namin yung pagkatalo namin nung second round so eto, nasa finals na. Pero hindi pa tapos ‘to, mahaba pa kaya kailangan pa namin mag-training at mag-improve pa,” said La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo.

Jolina Dela Cruz supplied 10 points and six excellent receptions while Gagate and Alleiah chipped in nine points apiece. Rookie Shevana Laput had eight points.

Justine Jazareno tallied 22 excellent digs and 16 excellent receptions while Mars Alba tossed 12 excellent sets to go along with three markers.

The Lady Spikers set the tone early and took a 24-22 lead in the opener after Laput converted one from the service line.

Eya Laure kept the Golden Tigresses alive with consecutive through the block hits, but Canino then nailed a down-the-line hit before Fifi Sharma roofed Laure to give La Salle the first set.

La Salle used a late run in the second set to pull away from UST before the latter bounced back in the third and led by as much as nine points, 19-10, to send the game to a fourth set.