La Salle capped a dominating season with a 25-18, 25-17, 28-26 victory over University of Santo Tomas Saturday to win the UAAP Women’s Volleyball championship at the Filoil Flying V Arena in San Juan. It was payback time for the Lady Spikers as they lost to this same team in the finals a year ago.
Despite the Tigresses holding fort to a 24-19 lead in the 3rd set, the Lady Spikers showed poise down the stretch to hammer out this come-from-behind win. Captain Cha Cruz, who was named the Finals MVP, collected 14 hits, including four blocks, while Michelle Gumabao and season MVP Jacq Alarca combined for 25 markers.
Though they are officially 16-1 in season 73, the Lady Spikers are technically undefeated as their lone setback was a forfeiture due to an eligibility infraction.
“Hindi namin inisip na may talo kami. Inisip namin na 17-0 kami, talagang pinaghirapan ng mga bata ang championship na ito,” said a jubilant coach Ramil de Jesus, who has guided La Salle to all of its 6 UAAP championships including a 3-peat from 2003 to 2005.
Maika Ortiz had nine hits while Maru Banaticla added eight markers for Tigresses.
An outside hit by Abigail Maraño allowed UST to move closer in extending the game to a 4th set. But the Lady Spikers did not wilt under pressure as they mounted a rally to regain the upperhand 25-24. The Tigresses were able to tie the count twice, the last was at 26-26, after Ortiz scored a running spike. However, Gumabao scored a kill, while Cruz scored a hit which UST setter Rhea Dimaculangan failed to dig in which sealed the win, and the championship for La Salle.
Aside from the MVP plum, Alarca was also adjudged Best Spiker and Best Server. The other awardees from La Salle are Mika Esperanza (Rookie of the Year) and Michelle Gumabao (Best Blocker).