MANILA, Philippines — La Salle suffered a late third-round shock before knocking out Ateneo, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23, late Thursday to claim the UAAP Season 84 women’s volleyball championship. at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Lady Spikers will face the undefeated finalist National University in the best trilogy starting on Saturday.
But it wasn’t without difficulty Ateneo relied on Faith Nisperos to lead the late game that took the Blue Eagles from 21-14 to 22-19 with her four straight points.
Erika Raagas then took the trick to help Ateneo breathe into La Salle’s neck at 23-22 and clear a match point at 24-23.
In the end, the lubricated system of the Lady Spikers prevailed as Thea Gagate and Leiah Malaluan scored next to secure their first finals spot in four seasons.
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Malaluan finished with 16 points, while Gagate and Jolina Dela Cruz each added 13 points for Lady Spikers. Nisperos finished with 19 goals for the faltering defending champions.
La Salle wasted no time imposing her strength, rallying from a 7-10 deficit to take a 12-11 lead against Dela Cruz’s aces. Unable to go back to the scene when Aleiah Malaluan finds her mark and Thea Gagate closes the space for the Blue Eagles.
The Lady Spikers scored four points in kills while committing fewer fouls in the opening bracket, 8-3, as they showed the fruit of a long break that the Blue Eagles didn’t have.
The momentum spilled over into the second set when every Lady Spiker performed well in her role in the La Salle system. Gagate dashed into a 21-18 lead, fueling their final drive.
Ateneo Nisperos’ top AD carry ended 22-20. But no other Blue Eagle is willing or able to step up unlike La Salle’s Julia Coronel, whose ace takes the Lady Spikers to the set point in the second frame.
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