The La Salle Lady Spikers would rather turn a blind eye to the victories that they are piling up in the UAAP Season 85 women’s volleyball just to guard against complacency—which seems to be their biggest enemy at the moment.
They will try hard, especially with the confidence of the Lady Spikers going up a notch on Sunday after a 25-16, 25-20, 25-13 dumping of Ateneo as La Salle remained unscathed while wresting solo leadership in the eliminations before a full house crowd of green and blue at Mall of Asia Arena.
“We’re are not looking [at the record] even if we are on top. We just [want to] continue the things we’re doing, one game at a time,’’ said La Salle interim coach Noel Ocullo.
The Lady Spikers rose to 3-0, with this latest win over their bitter rivals being their 11th straight dating back to Season 79 in 2017—by far the longest run by either side in their fabled rivalry.
“I always remind my players not to be overconfident. [To] just stick to the system and apply it properly every game,’’ added Ocullo.
But don’t be surprised if the team’s self-assurance has gone sky-high, especially rookie Angel Canino, who, for the third straight game, has done wonders for La Salle.
Showing maturity beyond her years, Canino impressively pierced the Ateneo defense 21 times to finish with 23 points, eight of them coming in the opening frame where the Lady Spikers set the tone of the rout.
“It’s a different thing, this rivalry. I feel the pressure, but I don’t want to get affected. I just enjoyed myself with my teammates out there,’’ said Canino, who also had nine digs, one block and an ace.
Jolina dela Cruz’s composure was also high, chipping in 13 points with 10 kills while Thea Gagate asserted her length at the net with 10 points.
“Of course, credit goes to all of us. We were able to do what we’ve trained for, but I’m still not satisfied with my performance,’’ said Gagate.
Starting out strong, the Lady Spikers hardly gave the Lady Blue Eagles room to operate with Canino, Dela Cruz and Mereophe Sharma picking the right spots in their attacks.
Faith Nisperos pulled Ateneo within five, but miscues hounded them before Dela Cruz’s crosscourt spike closed out the first set.
“We have to be confident as a team and work on it. In time, we will have that confidence that we need,’’ said Ateneo coach Oliver Almadro, who absorbed his seventh consecutive defeat against La Salle calling the shots for the Blue Eagles.
Canino and Gagate again set the tables in the second set, leading La Salle to an early five-point advantage on a variety of strikes. The squad sustained the offense with an efficient, merciless foray at almost every chance it got.
La Salle’s errors allowed the Blue Eagles to claw back and make a fight out of it, but Sharma, Dela Cruz and Gagate put order back on the floor.
“It’s a never-ending cycle of learning and today’s game showed that we have to work more,’’ said Nisperos after finishing with 11 points and 11 digs for the Blue Eagles, who got shot down for the second time in three games.
Nisperos cut it to 24-20 with a spike that got blocked by Gagate before hitting the antennae, but a service blunder by Ateneo’s Kiara Cruz hastened their downfall.
La Salle’s tact hardly altered in the final set where the Lady Spikers easily built an eight-point spread and simply went through the motions of sweeping their archrivals.
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