Canino-less La Salle struggles past UE in 5 sets

Defending champion De La Salle University staved off a hard-fighting University of the East in five sets, 25-23, 21-25, 25-17, 22-25, 15-12, for its seventh straight win in the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Volleyball Tournament, Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Lady Spikers (26 points) tied University of Sto. Tomas (24 points) with a 9-1 record but was able to take the number one spot due to their advantage in points.

The towering duo of Thea Gagate and Shevana Laput took over for La Salle in the tight victory. The former tallied a team-high 22 points on 17 attacks, three blocks, and two aces while the latter registered 21 points on 17 attacks, three blocks, and one ace.

“Bad win, bad win itong nangyari sa amin. Although panalo, pero hindi maganda para sa amin. Siguro tine-test talaga kami kung hanggang saan yung character nitong team na ‘to, kung hanggang saan yung makakaya,” said Lady Spikers assistant coach Noel Orcullo.

Ahead by just one point in the fifth set, 10-9, the Lady Spikers leaned on Laput and Gagate, who spearheaded a four-to-nothing blast that put them to a point away from securing the victory, 14-9.

The Lady Warriors, though, were able to save three match points after Julia Coronel’s service error sparked a 3-0 run, which included a Cassiey Dongallo block on Gagate and a Laput attack error, to slice the lead down to two points.

Gagate then took over, scoring off a power tip to secure the hard-fought victory for La Salle after two hours and 23 minutes of game time.

“Hopefully, ‘wag na maulit. Kaya maging lesson sa kanila ‘tong nangyari na five set, although nanalo, a win is a win, pero dapat ilagay nila sa sarili nila na hindi dapat nangyayari yung ganung laro,” added Orcullo.

Alleiah Malaluan finished with 12 points in the triumph while Amie Provido and Maicah Larroza scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Lady Spikers.

La Salle looks to stretch its winning streak against National University on Sunday, 4:00 p.m. at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.