LA SALLE and National U hacked out contrasting wins on Wednesday to arrange a finals showdown in the UAAP women's volleyball tournament.

4 May 2023

Games Sunday
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
2 p.m. – UST vs FEU (Men Step-ladder)
4 p.m. – DLSU vs NU (Women’s Finals)

LA SALLE and National U hacked out contrasting wins on Wednesday to arrange a finals showdown in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament.

Egged on by thousands of supportive fans and supporters, La Salle sailed past its fabled rival University of Sto. Tomas, 26-24, 25-22, 20-25, 25-19 victory before 8,014 adoring fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

And with it, La Salle secured its second consecutive Finals appearance that took the Spikers in two hours, and 40 minutes nailing it.

And again, rookie Angel Canino came away with a solid performance made up of 19 crucial points and 10 digs for the Lady Spikers.

Meanwhile, back-to-back title-seeking National University later arranged a Finals rematch with La Salle after recovering from a slow start en route to hacking out a 22-25, 25-22, 25-12, 25-15 win over Adamson in the other Final Four pairing.

The Lady Spikers and the Lady Bulldogs, who completed a perfect 16-0 campaign that ended a 65-year drought last season, open their best-of-three series on Sunday at the Big Dome.

Reigning MVP Mhicaela Belen was in the zone with a career-high 29 points, including five blocks, and 19 receptions while Alyssa Solomon had three blocks for a 21-point showing for NU.

A potential missing puzzle for La Salle to secure its 12th championship overall – and the first since a three-peat in 2018 – Canino downplayed all the noise of winning the league’s highest individual award.

“Actually nagulat lang po ako na habang nagse-serve ako, nagtsa-chant sila ng ganoon. Hindi ko naman masyadong iniisip. Sinsabi ko sa sarili ko na focus lang, focus lang, hindi pa tapos lang laban nasa semis pa lang,” said Canino.

“Binabalewala ko lang po yung sinasabi ng mga tao kasi naglalaro pa. Hindi pa tapos ang UAAP,” she added.

The top-ranked Lady Spikers avenged not only their lone loss of the season from the hands of the Tigresses but also their defeat in the Season 81 Final Four in 2019.

“Happy dahil ayun nga, na-redeem namin yung pagkatalo namin nung second round so eto, nasa finals na. Pero hindi pa tapos ito, mahaba pa kaya kailangan pa namin mag-traning at mag-improve pa,” said La Salle assistant coach Noel Orcullo.

Jolina dela Cruz added 10 points and eight receptions, Thea Gagate had five blocks for a nine-point outing while the Lady Spikers’ substitute opposite spiker Alleiah Malaluan was also huge with nine kills.

Eya Laure, who left everything on the floor with 15 points, 12 digs, and 11 receptions, said time will tell if she will play one more season for UST.

The Tigresses became a contender with Laure, who was teammates with MVP Sisi Rondina during her rookie year in 2019 and had a chance to share the floor with her elder sister EJ during the 2020 season which was eventually scrapped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Siyempre ngayon, pagod yung nararamdaman ko,” said Laure. “Siguro time will tell kung ano yung para sa akin. Ayoko kasing magmadali. Gusto kong i-open ang lahat ng doors ngayon at makikinig ako.”

“Kung may playing year ako hanggang Season 100, bakit naman hindi? Pero siyempre kailangang mag-move forward lagi sa buhay. Basta wala akong ibinibigay na answer. Gusto ko lang muna ng time ulit and mag-recover sa katawan,” she added.

UST nearly squandered a 19-10 lead before getting a lifeline before La Salle regained its groove to close out the Final Four.

Imee Hernandez had 12 points, including two blocks, while Milena Alessandrini scored eight points in her final match for the Tigresses.

The Lady Bulldogs hope to flip the switch in the biggest stage after losing twice to the Lady Spikers in the eliminations.

“Itong Finals, back to zero talaga,” said Belen.

Kate Santiago had six blocks for a 15-point effort and collected 11 digs while Lorene Toring was the other Lady Falcon in twin digits with 11 points. Trisha Tubu struggled with six points.

Men’s action

Far Eastern University, meanwhile, moved up to the men’s step-ladder following a 25-21, 19-25, 25-22, 25-22 victory over La Salle.

Mark Calado came through with 22 points, Dryx Saavedra hammered 12 kills while Jelord Talisayan also logged 12 points, including two service aces, 17 receptions and seven digs for the Tamaraws.

Up next for No. 3 FEU is a Sunday showdown with second-ranked UST for the right to face defending two-time champion NU in the best-of-three title series.

Tamaraws coach Rei Diaz praised the Green Spikers for putting up a good fight in their first Final Four stint in 10 years.

“Congratulations sa DLSU kasi ang galing nila e. Ang galing nung ginawa nila so congratulations din sa lahat ng players, ginawa nila yung pinag-ensayuhan namin,” said Diaz.

“Talagang walang tumigil e, ang ganda, ang sarap ng feeling na naglalaro kang sama-sama, sabay-sabay at tulong tulong,” he added.

Noel Kampton led the Green Spikers with 18 points and seven digs, JM Ronquillo had 17 points, including two blocks while Billie Anima had seven of his 15 points from blocks.