Showing that their loss in Game 1 was a fluke, the Lady Spikers dominated Ateneo in 3 sets, 25-16, 25-22, and 25-13 to successfully defend their UAAP title and cement their position as one of the country’s best collegiate teams. Team captain Cha Cruz bowed out with a flourish, leading her team past the hard-fighting Lady Eagles today to clinch the finals MVP award.
Taking off from where they left off in game 2, the Lady Spikers dominated at the net early in the match, scoring 5 points on outright blocks and deflecting numerous attempts by Ateneo’s frontliners. In the first set, our offense matched Ateneo’s vaunted duo of spikers 10-9 while frustrating them, forcing them to hit take risks in their attempts to get past the seemingly impenetrable wall at the net. Ateneo only led at 0-1, before their successive errors gave us the lead at 4-1. Ateneo briefly threatened at 15-all, before we pulled away at 19-15. Ateneo only scored 1 more point as the pressure exerted by our players’ sustained attacks forced more errors from the blue team. In a desperate attempt to pull a rabbit (eagle?) out of a hat, Gorayeb substituted Nacachi with Tajima, his lucky charm in game 1. To no avail.
The second set was more competitive, Ateneo managing to tie the score at 1-1 and again at 5-all before the Lady Spikers put some distance between the teams. Ateneo last threatened at 19-18, before the Lady Spikers’ steady play, sustained attacks, and tireless retrieving culminated in Ara Galang’s kill to end it at 25-22.
Ateneo gave some semblance of fight in the early part of the 3rd set at 2-all and again at 4-4 before the Lady Spikers showed their championship pedigree as they pulled away at 14-7. The demoralized Ateneo team only could manage 6 more points as our team ran away with the win.
The floor defense was also outstanding, allowing the retrieval of many attacks before turning them into points on the offensive end. Our net defense was also unforgiving, forcing the Ateneo attackers into risky attempts. While we had a couple of ugly service errors, in general the serve was an offensive weapon which the Ateneo receivers could not handle, ending up with Ferrer having to run after the pass and deliver awkward sets which could not be converted by the frontliners. Our reception was outstanding, getting the ball in prime position to Mika Esperanza who expertly varied her sets, and Ateneo had no answer to many of our offensive thrusts. And finals MVP Cha Cruz outclassed her counterpart Cainglet throughout the game, forcing Gorayeb to substitute her twice with de Jesus, but despite the enforced breaks, Cainglet never got going as she was closely marked throughout the match.
To our team captain, Cha Cruz, thank for your years of service to the WVT and to La Salle. And to the rest of the Lady Spikers, well done! Let’s do it again next year!