Lady Spikers dispatch pesky Eagles. Set to face UST in finals rematch

For the second straight year, De La Salle and Santo Tomas will meet in the UAAP Women’s volleyball  finals.

But the Lady Spikers need to toughen up in close games like this if they want to dethrone the Tigresses. La Salle went to the eye of the needle once again to outlast a stubborn Ateneo side, 26-24, 21-25, 25-17, 26-28, 15-8, in the Final Four Saturday at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan.

The series opener between the Lady Spikers and the Tigresses is set on Wednesday.

“Disorganized ang blocking namin at lumabas ang mga pagkakamali sa mga service. Masuwerte na kami at nanalo, at least na-test nang husto ang mga bata,” said a relieved Lady Archers mentor Ramil de Jesus.

Stephanie Mercado finished with 19 points while Jacq Alarca and Abigail Maraño contributed 14 points for La Salle.

In what expected to be an easy outing for the Lady Spikers, has turned out to be a close one. Ateneo took the game to a fifth frame with a Fille Cainglet scoring go-ahead kill and Bea Pascual banged in set-winning tip-in.

The Lady Eagles even took a 3-1 advantage early on when La Salle banked on its experience to take a 7-3 spread after Dzi Gervacio committed an attacking error. A running spike by Gretchen Ho allowed Ateneo to inch closer to 7-8 before the Lady Spikers went on another run, as setter Mika Esperanza scored on a drop shot to take a 13-8 lead.

Cainglet and Gervacio finished with 19 points while Ho chipped in 11 hits, including two blocks, and Kara Acevedo had 10 markers for Ateneo.

Green Spikers bow to UST. Finish 4th

In the Men’s division, defending champion UST arranged a finals rematch with long-time rival Far Eastern University with a 23-25, 20-25, 25-16, 25-16, 15-8 win over La Salle.

Staring at a 3-7 deficit in the deciding fifth set, JP Torres, James Pecaña and Jayson Ramos combined forces in the Growling Tigers’ searing 11-0 run to move closer to match point. UST, which is seeking a ‘four-peat’, sealed the win with a kill by Pecaña.

“Experience ang nagpanalo sa amin. Yung first two sets, kulang sa timing yung blocking namin pero mabuti na lang at nakabawi kami,” said Growling Tigers coach Emil Lontoc.

Torres had a career-high 24 hits, including five blocks, while Jay Depante added 16 points for UST.

Chris Macasaet and Christopher Antonio scored 14 hits apiece while Mark Lee and Kevin dela Vega chipped in 12 points each for the Green Spikers, who improved on their fifth-place finish last season.

The Growling Tigers and the Tamaraws begin their best-of-three championship series on Wednesday.